Definition of Water Fluoridation
Water fluoridation is the deliberate upward adjustment of the natural trace element, fluorine (in the ionic form of fluoride), using guidelines developed by scientific and medical research, for the purpose of promoting the public´s health through the prevention of tooth decay. Fluoride is present in small but widely varying amounts in practically all soils, water supplies, plants, and animals, and thus is a normal constituent of all diets. The highest concentrations in mammals are found in the bones and teeth. All public water supplies in the country contain trace amounts of natural fluoride.
Research into the beneficial effects of fluoride began in the early 1900´s by Frederick McKay, a young Colorado dentist. He convinced Dr. G.V. Black, an expert on dental enamel, to study a condition they called mottled enamel. This condition is now known as fluorosis. These doctors determined that high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in the drinking water was the cause, but they also noted that these stained teeth were resistant to decay. In 1936, Dr. H. Trendley Dean determined that 1 part per million (ppm) fluoride in the drinking water did not cause visible, severe dental fluorosis. The first community water fluoridation program began in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945.
Benefits of Fluoridation
Numerous studies, taken together, clearly establish a relationship between water fluoridation and the prevention of tooth decay. Prior to its widespread use, almost 98 out of 100 Americans experienced some tooth decay by the time they reached adulthood. While dental decay is reduced by fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses, professional fluoride treatments, and fluoride dietary supplements, fluoridation of water is the most costeffective method. It provides the greatest benefit to those who can least afford preventive and restorative dentistry and reduces dental disease, loss of teeth, time away from work or school, and anesthesiarelated risks associated with dental treatment.
Ingestion of Fluoride
A minute part of the fluoride ingested is deposited in the bones and teeth; the remainder is rapidly excreted through the kidneys. Bones and teeth will accumulate fluoride over long periods of time. This is not a health problem, but rather a benefit when an optimal concentration is consumed over an extended period of time.
Effects of Home Water Treatment Systems on Fluoride Levels
It has been consistently documented that reverse osmosis systems and distillation units remove significant amounts of fluoride from the water supply. A recent study regarding water softeners indicates that this process causes no significant change in fluoride levels.
Toxic Effects of Fluoride
Like many common substances essential to life and good health - salt, iron, vitamins A and D, chlorine, oxygen and even water itself - fluoride can be toxic in excessive quantities. Fluoride in the much lower concentrations (0.7 to 1.2 ppm) used in water fluoridation is not harmful or toxic.
In a 1990 study, scientists at the National Cancer Institute evaluated the relationship between fluoridation of drinking water and cancer deaths in the United States during a 36year period and also a 15-year period. After examining more than 2.3 million cancer death records and 125,000 cancer case records in counties using fluoridated water, the researchers saw no indication of a cancer risk associated with fluoridated drinking water.
Support for Fluoridation
There are few public health measures that have had the scientific endorsement and broad base of research, which supports its use, as does fluoridation. Government officials, the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, the World Health organization, the American Water Works Association, and virtually every scientific and professional organization in the health field support community fluoridation. In the almost fifty years of fluoridation, there has never been any clinically substantiated evidence of harm to anyone from drinking optimally fluoridated water.
This information was compiled by the Garrett County Department of Public Utilities and was taken from Fluoridation Facts, distributed by the American Dental Association and Water Fluoridation, A Manual for Water Plant Operators, April 1994, distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Information contained herein is presented for the purpose of educating people on Fluoride and is not intended to replace or offer medical advice. Garrett County government will not be liable for any direct, indirect or other damages arising there from.