Why Did the US Reduce Fluoride Levels in Drinking Water?

As you probably read, the US recently reduced the recommended amount of fluoride in our drinking water. This is the first change that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed since 1962. The new recommendation is for 0.7 mg of fluoride per liter of water, as opposed to the old standard of 0.7 mg to 1.2 mg. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also issued a similar recommendation to bottled water manufacturers. This change obviously begs the question:

Why did the US change their recommendation?

According to WebMD, over the years, people have gained access to fluoride through a wide variety of means, including through toothpaste and mouthwashes. Combined with the level of fluoride in drinking water, this has caused many people to get too much fluoride, called fluorosis, which can stain teeth. The stains look like “scattered white flecks, frosty edges or lacy chalk-like lines on teeth,” and can become larger as fluorosis progresses and gets worse.

The new recommendation does not mean that fluoride is bad and should be avoided. Public health research still that suggests fluoridated water has contributed greatly to a mass decrease in dental decay. According to the CDC, water fluoridation has led to significant declines in tooth decay and is noted as one of the 10 great public health advancements of the 20th century. The key to fluoridated water is to ensure that people are getting just the right amount of fluoride through a variety of sources.

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