Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally found in water and food. When it comes to health, fluoride has several different benefits. Although studies have shown that it can strengthen bone density to some degree, it is most widely known for its use in protecting teeth from tooth decay. It is added to a wide variety of dental products, such as toothpaste or mouthwash; it is given in drop or tablet form to children, and it is often added to public water supplies. The use of fluoride, including fluoridated water, helps strengthen and protect one’s teeth by hardening the enamel.
Unfortunately, there are many myths regarding its use, particularly in terms of the water supply. With the popularity of the Internet as a way to both research and spread information, it is easy to find negative and often disconcerting information regarding fluoride. Although much of this information is not based on fact, it has caused concern regarding the effectiveness and safety of fluoride use. For this reason, it is important that people educate themselves to better separate myth from actual fact for the health of their teeth.
Myth: People who drink fluoridated water will develop fluorosis.
Fact: Fluorosis occurs when a person takes in very high amounts of fluoride. In the United States, the amount of fluoride that is added to drinking water is at a level that comes with a very low likelihood of fluorosis. Although some rare cases can be found in the U.S., they are typically very mild.
Myth: Fluoride is dangerous for children.
Fact: Fluoride is not considered a danger to children when used as intended. Drinking fluoridated water not only helps to strengthen teeth as they grow, but it can also help prevent future tooth decay and loss.
Myth: It is extremely expensive for communities to fluoridate water.
Fact: Adding fluoride to the water is considered one of the less expensive ways to prevent tooth decay. It is cheaper in general than treating tooth decay.
Myth: Drinking fluoridated water will cause cancer.
Fact: Numerous studies and research have shown that the addition of fluoride does not increase the risk of cancer or other serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, or kidney problems. It is endorsed as being safe by both the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Myth: Fluoridated water does not have an impact on tooth decay.
Fact: There have been numerous studies conducted in the U.S. and in Europe that show that fluoridation helps reduce tooth decay among both adults and children.
Myth: Europe does not allow fluoridated water, which means the U.S. shouldn’t, either.
Fact: European countries do have water fluoridation systems in place. Salt fluoridation is the common method that is used in Europe and also in Latin America.
Myth: Fluoride is medication that is forced on communities.
Fact: The fluoride that is used to fluoridate water is not a medicine. A U.S. court decision ruled that fluoride is a nutrient and not a medication.
Myth: The risk of autism is increased by fluoride use.
Fact: No evidence from research or study indicates that the risk of autism is elevated because of fluoride or fluoridated water.
Myth: Fluoridated water is not necessary because of the fluoride in toothpaste.
Fact: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the amount of fluoride in toothpaste doesn’t provide the level of protection needed to fight tooth decay. Together, fluoridated water and toothpaste work to provide maximum protection.
Myth: Fluoride is unnatural.
Fact: Certain levels of fluoride can be found naturally in water and other sources. Fluoridation only increases the level of fluoride to one that helps decrease decay.
- Water Fluoridation Myths and Facts (PDF)
- Fluoride Facts
- Fluoridation Facts
- Fluoridation Basics
- Review of Fluoride: Benefits and Risks: Major Findings
- Fluoride and Water Fluoridation Information
- Fluoride Facts for Parents (PDF)
- Environment: Fluoride Facts
- Fluoridated Water
- KidsHealth for Parents: Fluoride and Water
- Fluoride Fact Sheet
- Fluoride: The Facts
- Infant Formula, Fluoride, and Oral Health
- Fluoride and Children
- Water Fluoridation Benefits vs. Claims Made By Those Opposed to Water Fluoridation (PDF)
- Impact of Fluoride on the Neurological Development in Children
- Reasons for Fluoridation
- Fluoride: Adverse Effects
- Is Fluoride a Poison?
- Does Fluoride Lower IQs?
- Cancer Facts: Fluoridated Water (PDF)
- Surgeon General on Community Water Fluoridation (video)
- Fact Sheet Fluoride (PDF)
- Does Fluoride in Drinking Water Hurt Your Brain?
- Fluoridation Questions and Answers
- Health Advocates Fighting Myths About Fluoridation With Science: Misinformation Endangers Oral Health
- Common Fluoride Myths (PDF)
- Dental Health and Fluoride Treatment
- Fluoride and Drinking Water (PDF)
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