Is fluoride a safe drinking water additive?

The fluoridation of drinking water is endorsed by the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and the US Public Health Service. The CDC proclaimed fluoridation to be one of the top ten greatest public health achievements of the past century. Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop stated, "Fluoridation is the single most important commitment that a community can make to the oral health of its citizens."

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 referendum.

Extensive research conducted over the past 50 years has shown time and time again that fluoridation of public water supplies is a safe, effective and economical way to reduce tooth decay for all ages. 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.