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Why the U.S. Decided to Lower Fluoride Levels in Municipal Water Supplies
Posted on 5/27/2016 by Giri Palani
Since 1962, the U.S. government has advised local municipalities to add fluoride to its water supplies, in a move that has been declared as one of the biggest public health advancements in recent history. This change came after scientists discovered that people who drank water with more fluoride tended to have fewer cavities.
The first city in the world to add fluoride to its drinking water was Grand Rapids, Michigan, who made the change in 1945. Six years later, a study found that there was a major decline in the tooth decay of the city's children, and the U.S. surgeon general then endorsed water fluoridation.
Despite these benefits, adding fluoride to municipal water has always been a controversial topic. Some people have fought adding fluoride to water supplies, and recently, the government has lowered the recommended amount that should be added to drinking water.
Initially, the recommendations were to add fluoride to a level of 0.70 parts per million in warmer climates and to 1.2 parts per million in cooler climates. The new standard is for 0.70 parts per million everywhere.
This change was sparked due to concerns that some people might be getting too much fluoride. Fluoride is now commonly added to mouthwash and toothpaste, so if people also drink a lot of water, they could be consuming more than the recommended amount.
Too much fluoride can lead to a condition known as fluorosis, which can cause white spots on the teeth. A recent study has shown that about 40% of adolescents had this spottiness or streaking on their teeth, most likely due to getting too much fluoride.
Despite the changes in fluoride level recommendations, it is important that you are continuing to get enough. Make sure you are drinking municipal water rather than just bottled water, and ensure that you are using fluoride toothpaste in order to best protect your teeth.