The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has decided to reduce the recommended amount of fluoride in drinking water.
The reason for the change? A rise in instances of dental fluorosis: White spots on teeth caused by too much fluoride.
The government began adding fluoride to the public water systems in an effort to combat tooth decay. Since 1962, the optimal concentration of fluoride in water has been 0.7 to 1.2 mg per liter. The HHS will be reducing optimal concentration to 0.7 mg per liter of water, according to Time.com.
“While additional sources of fluoride are more widely used than they were in 1962, the need for community water fluoridation still continues,” U.S. Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. said in a statement. “Community water fluoridation continues to reduce tooth decay in children and adults beyond that provided by using only toothpaste and other fluoride-containing products.”
For the past 70 years, communities across the United States have found that fluoride in their public water systems significantly improved their residents’ oral health. Fluoride occurs naturally in most water systems, but often at levels too low to prevent tooth decay. The practice of adding fluoride to a community’s water system to reach the optimal level for preventing tooth decay has grown steadily over the years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the addition of fluoride in water “one of the greatest achievements in public health in the 20th century.” This is the first change to recommended fluoride concentrations in over 50 years.
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