Is fluoridated drinking water safe for your family?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named fluoridated water as one of the 10 greatest health achievements of the last century. Early in the 1900s scientists discovered that fluoride—a naturally occurring element—that appeared in greater concentrations in drinking water supplies was connected to a lower rate of tooth decay in those areas. So in 1945, many communities began adding fluoride to their drinking supplies.
Today, over 60 percent of the U.S. population drinks fluoridated water, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The issue is that research from the National Toxicology Program surfaced in the 90s that showed a relationship between fluoride and an increased incidence of bone cancer in male lab rats. Since that time, studies have not found conclusive evidence linking fluoride to incidences of bone cancer in humans. Still, many communities and families are concerned, especially regarding the effects that fluoridated water may have on children.
A statement from the American Dental Association states that “Studies conducted throughout the past 60 years have consistently indicated that fluoridation of community water supplies is safe and effective in preventing dental decay in both children and adults. It is the most efficient way to prevent one of the most common childhood diseases—tooth decay.”
Parents who are concerned about fluoridated drinking water should contact their local municipal water departments who would know the level of fluoride contained in the water supply. Further, since many types of toothpaste are fluoridated, parents should make sure to give small children a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with which to brush, and make sure they spit it out after brushing to prevent ingestion.
According to Jennifer DeBruler, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, “Even though research has shown that there may not be a tie between fluoride in drinking water and cancer, people do have alternatives—such as buying their own non-fluoridated drinking water—if they are concerned.”
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.