in your drinking water
Presently, nearly 2/3 of U.S. residents who receive water from a
public water system, now receive fluoridated water. Fluoride is a
naturally occurring element in the environment that is known to be
effective in preventing tooth decay in children and adults. Some
water supplies contain fluoride naturally, but others, like Sebago
Lake and the wells serving Steep Falls, do not contain enough
fluoride to be beneficial. At the Sebago Lake Water Treatment
Facility in Standish, the level of fluoride in the water is adjusted
to an optimal concentration of 0.7 mg/L. Water samples are collected
daily to ensure that fluoride levels in the water remain within the
beneficial range. Fluoride was added to Greater
Portland's water supply in 1997 as a result of a publicly-initiated
A detailed review by the National Research Council in 1993 found no links between low-level fluoride ingestion and occurrences of cancer, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, immunological disorders, reproductive effects, genetic disorders, or bone fractures.
Many healthful substances can be harmful if you get too much. This is true of salt, iron, vitamins A and D, and even water itself. While exposure to high levels of fluoride over a long time can cause dental fluorosis, a condition that leads to mottled tooth enamel, discoloration, and in some cases erosion of the gum line, the fluoride content in your drinking water is limited under federal law and the levels are very low.
Currently, over 162 million people in the United States are
receiving the benefits of water fluoridation.
Systemic fluoride. This is the fluoride in drinking water, fluoride vitamins or supplements. This fluoride is swallowed. Systemic fluoride in saliva strengthens the tooth structure and helps prevent decay. It reaches teeth still forming, even before you can see them in the mouth.
Topical fluoride. This is the fluoride in toothpaste, gels and rinses. It strengthens teeth already in the mouth. When drinking water is fluoridated, there is also a slight topical effect from the water.
Both topical and systemic fluoride help prevent decay by strengthening teeth. Fluoride can help reverse early decay.
How is fluoride manufactured?
water fluoridation compare to other public health measures?
Fluoridation is similar to other ways we protect public health.
Some controversy surrounds fluoridation. Opponents question the benefits and safety of ingesting fluoride.