Fluoride: Everything You Thought You Knew




Fluoride is known by dentists to aid oral health by helping to prevent cavities and tooth decay. During this century, much debate has been raised around how fluoride is known to be toxic, could cause side effect, or could even be used for mind control. Fluoride is one of the most debated health concerns of recent times although there is plenty of information and studies available about this substance.


Fluoride has the ability to remineralize teeth and keep decay from forming. In many urban regions fluoride is put in the water supply as a preventative measure to reduce tooth decay in the population, especially among children. Although fluoride in our water has raised concerns, this has been one of the biggest innovations of the 20th century and has statistically decreased the rate children get cavities by over 50%! 



A report from the U.S. Surgeon General estimated that 51 million school hours are lost per year because of dental-related illness. Without water fluoridation, that number would likely be much higher. Additionally, the rate of cavities has gone down 25% in adults and children since including fluoride in public water systems.

The amount of fluoride in toothpaste is roughly 1-3% of the maximum safe consumable level of the substance. To become sick from the toxic effect of fluoride, you would have to ingest over 100 times this amount of toothpaste. That being said, even smaller amounts are present in your local water supply. The chances of getting poisoned from fluoride are extremely low, however, it is possible to experience some minor symptoms when exposed to high quantities. Using fluoride toothpaste once or twice a day is usually enough! 


Not all local water supplies add fluoride to their water, as you can see from this infographic below. 



Fluoridation in local water sources has only existed for the last 70 years or so. Noted during the 1940s, more than 15 percent of World War II recruits were denied the ability to enlist in the Army because they lacked six pairs of opposing teeth. The adult human mouth contains 32 teeth, and yet just 70 years ago a large number of 21- to 35-year-olds did not have even 12 good teeth.

According to the American Dental Association, the average cost for a community to fluoridate its water ranges from 50 cents per year per person in large communities to $3 a year per person in small communities. In most cities, the association said, every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in annual dental treatment costs.


Here are some additional interesting facts about fluoride from the ADHA:

  • Fluorine, from which fluoride is derived, is the 13th most abundant element and is released into the environment naturally in both water and air. 
  • Fluoride is naturally present in all water. Community water fluoridation is the addition of fluoride to adjust the natural fluoride concentration of a community’s water supply to the level recommended for optimal dental health, approximately 1.0 ppm (parts per million). One ppm is the equivalent of 1 mg/L, or 1 inch in 16 miles. Community water fluoridation is an effective, safe, and inexpensive way to prevent tooth decay.
  • Fluoridation benefits Americans of all ages and socioeconomic status
  • Children and adults who are at low risk of dental decay can stay cavity-free through frequent exposure to small amounts of fluoride. This is best gained by drinking fluoridated water and using a fluoride toothpaste twice daily.
  • Children and adults at high risk of dental decay may benefit from using additional fluoride products, including dietary supplements (for children who do not have adequate levels of fluoride in their drinking water), mouth-rinses, and professionally applied gels and varnishes.
  • Good scientific evidence supports the use of community water fluoridation and the use of fluoride dental products for preventing tooth decay for both children and adults.
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