New Fluoride Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week that the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water be set at the lowest end of the current optimal range to prevent tooth decay.  The EPA is also reviewing the maximum amount of fluoride allowed in drinking water.

The new guidelines will reduce the possibility of children ingesting too much fluoride, while maintaining fluoride’s benefit in preventing dental decay.  The HHS proposed recommendation of 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water replaces the current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams. The new recommendation is a result of recent EPA and HHS scientific studies seeking to balance fluoride’s benefit in preventing cavities while limiting any undesirable health effects. The EPA will also determine whether to lower the maximum amount of fluoride allowed in drinking water.

Dental fluorosis may occur with excess fluoride intake while teeth are developing.      Dental fluorosis in the United States is mostly in the mild form: lacy white spots on the outside of the teeth. The severe form of dental fluorosis, including staining and pitting of the enamel, is rare in the United States.

Today we have access to more sources of fluoride than were available when water fluoridation was first introduced in the 1940s. In addition to fluoridated water, we may receive fluoride from dental products (toothpaste and mouth rinses), fluoride supplements, and fluoride applied in the dental office.

For the full report of the new recommendations see: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/01/pre_pub_frn_fluoride.html

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