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​How come there’s fluoride in my drinking water?

It’s been 70 years since Americans began consuming fluoridated water to prevent tooth decay.

Decades ago, scientists discovered that children who naturally had more fluoride in their drinking water had fewer cavities.

Grand Rapids, MI was the first city in the world to add fluoride to its water supply in 1945, and today nearly two-thirds of the country’s drinking water contains added fluoride. Toho Water Authority systems have been fluoridated since the 1980s. Thanks to a grant from the Florida Department of Health, our service areas in Poinciana and Harmony will soon be included in this longstanding public health program.

Fluoride protects teeth in several ways. In growing teeth, it mixes with tooth enamel to harden and protect teeth from decay. It also works with saliva to protect enamel from plaque, sugars, and acid in fully formed teeth, too. The Centers for Disease Control credit fluoridation with a dramatic decline in tooth decay in the U.S.

This year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lowered the optimal fluoride level that should be in drinking water to prevent tooth decay to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. The change was a result of the additional fluoride now added to most toothpaste and mouthwash. Too much fluoride can cause a condition known as fluorosis, or white striations in teeth that are otherwise not harmful.

The American Dental Association has a comprehensive report with more than 350 scientific references that support and explain the science behind this widespread public health program. The ADA’s downloadable Fluoridation Facts is reader-friendly and can provide further research on the topic.

Critics of fluoridation are as old as the practice and date back to the 1940s. Anti-fluoride conspiracy theories hatched from the John Birch Society and movies such as Dr. Strangelove. However, the CDC said fluoridation is one of the Top 10 Greatest Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century.

“Community water fluoridation is effective, inexpensive, and does not depend on access or availability of professional services. It has been the basis for the primary prevention of tooth decay for nearly 70 years,” said U.S. Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak.

It’s cheap (and provides long-term savings). It’s natural. It’s good for everybody.

For more information on fluoride in your water, call Toho Water Authority at 863-496-1770, or visit the trusted resources below.