For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that is absorbed into and strengthens tooth enamel, and thereby helping to prevent decay of tooth structures.
In nearly every U.S. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.
Some private wells may contain naturally fluoridated water.
Fluoride has come under some recent scrutiny by public health officials, some of whom question how effective it is in preventing cavities.
Bottled Water and Home Water Treatment Systems
The American Dental Association has maintained that consistent use of bottled water could result in individuals missing the benefits of optimally fluoridated water. Moreover, the ADA has held that some home water treatment systems change fluoridated water supplies for the worse.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child may face a condition called enamel fluorosis if he or she gets too much fluoride during the years of tooth development. Too much fluoride can result in defects in tooth enamel.
If you're wondering how fluoridated your community's water supply is, chances are you can get the latest information by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site.
A feature called "My Water's Fluoride" allows consumers to check out basic information about their water system, including the number of people served by the system and the target fluoridation level. Optimal levels recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC for drinking water range from 0.7 parts per million (ppm) for warmer climates to 1.2 ppm for cooler climates to account for the tendency for people to drink more water in warmer climates.
Toothpaste Warning Labels
The American Dental Association has stated that the FDA-required warning labels on toothpaste packaging, which state that poison control centers should be contacted if one swallows fluoride toothpaste, "could unnecessarily frighten parents and children, and that the label greatly overstates any demonstrated or potential danger posed by fluoride toothpastes."