Water Fluoridation in the United States
In the early 1930s, researchers noticed that people living in communities with naturally high levels of fluoride in the water had fewer cavities. Studies showed that fluoridated water was not only safe but beneficial. Community water facilities began adding fluoride to their water in an effort to prevent cavities. According to America’s Health Rankings, Kentucky is the healthiest state with 99.9% of its population receiving fluoridated water. Hawaii is the least healthy state with only 11.7% of its residents receiving fluoridated water. Within the entire United States, 74.4% of the population has access to fluoridated water from a public water company.
Benefits of Fluoride
The main benefit of adding fluoride to water is to improve dental health. In growing children, fluoride helps to build up the strength of their developing permanent teeth. In adults, supplemental fluoride supports tooth enamel which promotes healthy teeth. For both children and adults, this means fewer cavities and fillings, reduced need for tooth extraction, and less pain from dental issues. In turn, people with healthier teeth miss less school and less work due to dental pain.
Can You Get Too Much Fluoride?
While fluoride does have proven benefits, too much fluoride can have some negative effects. When exposed to excessive exposure, people can develop fluorosis, a condition that causes damage to the bones, joints, and teeth. Researchers have done studies that show that children who ingest high amounts of fluoride can develop spots and discoloration on both their baby teeth and their adult teeth that are still below the gumline.
In order to help prevent fluorosis, the EPA regulates the allowable limit for fluoride that can be present in drinking water. The maximum contaminant level (MCL) is set at 4.0 mg/L or 4.0 ppm. If a public water system exceeds the fluoride MCL of 4 mg/L, the company must notify its customers. The notification should happen within 30 days of discovering the violation.
How Much Fluoride Is in My Water?
If you have water from a public water company, there are many resources that can you can access to help determine how much fluoride is in your water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website called, “My Water’s Fluoride.” On this site, you can filter down by state and then county to find the name of your water company. It will show you the water source and whether or not the water is fluoridated along with an explanation. If the water is fluoridated, you will see the amount of fluoride concentration.
Here is a quick reference by state that shows the number of people who have access to fluoridated water from a public water source.
2018 Water Fluoridation By State
|State||% of Residents Receiving Fluoridated Water||Rank|
Testing Your Water for Fluoride
Almost all water contains some level of fluoride, whether natural or supplemental. If you have well water, it is important to know the fluoride content of your water. This is especially true if you have children. It is recommended that private well owners test their water regularly for a variety of contaminants, including fluoride. If fluoride is found to be above the recommended levels, there are treatment options available.
Even if you have municipal water, the levels provided by the water company are only for water tested at the source. If you want to know what the fluoride levels are for the water coming out of your tap, you will need to test your water.
You can quickly and easily test your water with an at-home test kit or a laboratory test kit. An at-home test kit allows you to test your water for the presence of fluoride. However, the results are not as precise as laboratory testing. With the TestAssured Fluoride Test Kit, you collect a water sample and send it to our certified laboratory for testing. Simply collect your water sample in the sterilized vials provided in the kit and return them to the lab in the postage-paid return package to get a detailed analysis of the fluoride levels in your water.
Treating Water for Excess Fluoride
It is important to make sure that you are not ingesting excess fluoride. If you find out that your water has too much fluoride, there are simple steps you can take. The best way to reduce the amount of fluoride in your water is to invest in a distillation or reverse osmosis system. These treatment options are an effective method for reducing fluoride to the recommended levels.