April 29, 2015
The Department of Health and Human Services released its final Public Health Service recommendation for the optimal fluoride level in drinking water to prevent tooth decay. The recommended ratio of fluoride to water is 0.7 parts per million (ppm), which results from years of scientific analysis of the amount of fluoride people receive from all sources. This recommendation replaces the previous recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 ppm issued in 1962.
The adjustment takes into consideration additional sources of fluoridation that weren’t as readily available in 1962. Today, people get fluoride from sources other than their drinking water. For example, many foods are processed and prepared with fluoridated water, and most individuals use a fluoridated toothpaste or mouth rinse daily. Despite this increase in additional fluoride exposure, the need for water fluoridation will continue. Water fluoridation is scientifically proven to be safe and the most cost-effective way of preventing tooth decay in people of all ages and all socioeconomic backgrounds.
The CDA supports this recommendation as a way to help ensure an effective level of fluoride to reduce the incidence of tooth decay, while minimizing the risk of cosmetic fluorosis in the general population.
Educating patients about the benefits of fluoride is key in ensuring long-term dental health. Dentists are encouraged to talk with their patients about the safety and effectiveness of fluoridated drinking water. The ADA also offers a patient education brochure that dentists can order – Fluoride: Nature’s Cavity Fighter. Learn more about the brochure here.