What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride can be found throughout nature in a variety of forms. It exists in soil, plants, rocks, water, food and even the air around us. Scientists discovered that fluoride also has a major role in the mineralization of bones and teeth, which is one of the ways that they stay strong and durable. Almost 100% of the fluoride inside of your body is stored up in your bones and teeth.
There are many ways that all of us ingest and use fluoride to keep our bones and teeth strong. Adding fluoride in your drinking water is common throughout the globe, and many countries including Australia, Canada, the UK and the US all do so. Groundwater also naturally contains a certain amount of fluoride, but the amount can vary depending on the water supply in the area. Some people take fluoride supplements to prevent cavities prescribed by their dentist, and many oral care products also contain a certain amount of fluoride.
Why Is There Fluoride in Your Drinking Water?
The primary reason that there is fluoride in your drinking water is to prevent you from developing cavities. The cause of cavities is bacteria in your mouth that break down sugars and carbohydrates and make acids that chip away at the enamel on your teeth, or the outer layer that stops them from getting inside of your teeth. The acid will wear away at the minerals contained in your enamel, and without replacing those minerals and keeping the teeth clean, cavities will form. There is evidence that fluoride can prevent tooth decay, but recent studies have shown it is most effective when applied directly to the teeth in the form of oral care and prescription products. Drinking water that contains it is nowhere near as effective.
What Happens If You Consume Too Much Fluoride?
If you take in too much fluoride, whether through oral care products or through fluoride in your drinking water, it can lead to something known as fluorosis. The two most common types of fluorosis are dental and skeletal. Dental fluorosis leads to changes in how your teeth look. You might have noticed white spots on your teeth before, and these are often a sign of fluorosis. If you have a more serious case of the condition, you might have weak teeth or noticeable brown stains. It’s rare for adults to have a serious case of dental fluorosis, and it is most common in children who might be drinking water treated with fluoride, swallowing toothpaste as they learn to brush their teeth and potentially ingesting other products with fluoride.
Skeletal fluorosis takes a much longer period of time to develop, and it is rare in the United States. It happens after multiple years of ingesting too much fluoride. The first symptoms are relatively mild and include things like joint discomfort and stiffness. Over time, ligaments can become calcified and it can even alter your bone structure. Unlike fluoride in your drinking water, this most frequently happens when people in other countries drink groundwater that has naturally elevated levels of fluoride.
There are some other issues that have been connected to fluoride, but there has not been research to fully confirm or deny them. Some of these other issues include:
- Bone fractures due to weakened bones and increased odds of fracturing.
- Slightly increased cancer risk of osteosarcoma, which is a rare type of bone cancer.
- Impaired brain development in children where there was very high concentration of fluoride in groundwater in China.
If you are not sure how much fluoride is in your drinking water and what the best way to remove it is, we are here to help. We offer water testing and water filtration to reduce fluoride levels or eliminate it entirely.
Make Sure That Your Home Water Supply Is Safe to Drink with Atlantic Blue Water Center
We provide water treatment and water softening solutions for homeowners that want a cleaner water supply and water that is free from hazardous carcinogens that can contribute to increased cancer risk. We’re also focused on providing additional education on water treatment, water quality, and issues associated with water contaminants. Call us at (410) 751-9200 to schedule your in-home water testing appointment today.