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Fluoride

Related Terms

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Background

  • Fluoride is a chemical that is added to public water supply by many local governments in order to prevent tooth decay. Water fluoridation is the practice of adding supplemental fluoride in the form of sodium fluoride (NaF) to the water supply in order to help prevent dental caries (cavities) and reverse tooth decay in the general population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named water fluoridation "one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th Century."
  • Fluoride is a slightly altered, or ionic, form of the chemical element fluorine, and is considered both an element and a nutrient. In 1951, two researchers from Indiana University published an article in the Journal of Nutrition, which reported that fluoride prevented tooth decay in rats fed corn and sugar. Following this paper, the University sold its fluoridation technology to Procter & Gamble, and the chemical was added to Crest® toothpaste.
  • Fluoride compounds, such as calcium fluoride, are naturally occurring in drinking water and foods, usually in very small amounts. Today, fluoride is generally consumed in the supplemental form because it is added to drinking water by many municipal governments. Several brands of bottled water also contain added fluoride. While companies are not required to state the fluoride level on the label, the fluoride levels are monitored. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) places limits on how much fluoride is allowed in each bottle. Bottles with no fluoride added may contain up to 2.4 milligrams per liter. For those with fluoride added, the limit is 1.7 milligrams per liter.
  • The American Dental Association and the World Health Organization recommend raising the amount of fluoride in water supplies to an amount slightly above levels currently established by most worldwide municipal governments. Currently, municipal governments add fluoride to water at a rate of 0.7-1.2 parts per million. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated the maximum amount of fluoride to be added to drinking water is 4 parts per million.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.