Drinking fluoridated water on a regular basis helps improve oral health. Fluoride strengthens teeth and prevents cavities from forming. Fluoridation of drinking water makes teeth stronger by reducing tooth decay by around 25%. It is estimated that every $1 spent on water fluoridation saves up to $38 in dental treatment costs. Although fluoride greatly benefits humans, its excessive dose, more than 5-8 mg/kg of body weight, is toxic.
This article covers:
- Safe Limits for Fluoride in Drinking Water
- Importance and Benefits of Fluoridation in Drinking Water
- Harmful Effects of Excessive Fluoride in Drinking Water
- Method to Remove Fluoride from Drinking Water
Safe Limits of Fluoride in Drinking Water
The amount of fluoride in drinking water up to 4.0 mg/L is considered safe. This is the maximum amount of fluoride allowed in public water systems. It is also called as Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). Fluoride concentration above 4.0mg/L in drinking water is injurious to health.
Importance and Benefits of Fluoridation in Drinking Water
Water fluoridation is a process in which fluoride is added to the community water supplies by public health authorities. This process helps to adjust the recommended fluoride level in drinking water to maintain oral health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In 2018, community water systems that contain enough fluoride to protect teeth served more than 200 million people or 73% of the US population.”
Water fluoridation has the following benefits to offer.
Prevent Tooth Decay and Improves Dental Health
According to research, most people who drink fluorinated water have better oral health than those who drink non-fluorinated water. Fluoride strengthens teeth; thus, it prevents or reduces tooth decay. It also prevents cavities from forming. Hence, the overall dental health improves.
Reduce Dental Treatment Cost
Water fluoridation saves $6.5 billion per year by reducing dental treatment costs. If people do not drink fluorinated water, they will develop cavities formation more often and have to pay for their treatment. Thus, fluorinated water reduces dental treatment.
Harmful Effects of Excessive Fluoride in Drinking Water
Although fluoride in drinking water has many benefits, its excessive amount can cause harmful health effects. Here are a few of the disadvantages that excessive fluoride in drinking water can have.
Nephrotoxicity and kidney damage
Nephrotoxicity is possibly associated with excessive fluoride consumption. It is a rapid deterioration in kidney functioning due to the toxic effects of certain chemicals and medications. Exposure to higher concentrations of fluoride could contribute to kidney damage, ultimately leading to chronic kidney disease (CKD). A research was conducted on 18000 people living in India with consumption of fluoride water concentrations between 3.5 ppm, and 4.9 ppm,. Results showed that they had an increased risk of kidney stone formation.
Bone Cancer (Osteosarcoma)
Another possible risk associated with excessive fluoride consumption is its connection with bone cancer. There is no proper research has been conducted on links between fluoride and bone cancer. In 2001, Elise Bassin published research and concluded that boys who drank fluoridated water had increased chances of suffering from Osteosarcoma. But it was later noted that this study was conducted on a small group of people exposed to water fluoridation. Studies focusing on the entire population don’t show such links.
If the fluoride level in drinking water is more than 2 ppm, children who drink this water can have dental fluorosis. Too much fluoride consumption in early childhood can be problematic for the rest of your life.
Methods to Remove Fluoride from Drinking Water
Although fluoride in water has some incredible benefits, its excessive amount can be dangerous for pregnant females and young children. Thus, you must limit its consumption by using fluoride water filters, reverse osmosis, and water distillers.
Fluoride Water Filters
Various types of water filters are effective for removing fluoride from your drinking water. Carbon water filters are one of the best choices for fluoride removal. Pitcher-style carbon filters bring the fluoride level down to 0.2 ppm in your drinking water. Especially for large families, these filters are best to opt for.
Reverse osmosis is another good option for removing fluoride from tap water. In this method, a membrane containing activated alumina granules attracts fluorine atoms from tap water and removes them as wastewater. A reverse osmosis system is usually installed under sinks but can also be installed in the garage and utility room.
In water distillers, water is heated into steam and then condenses into purified water. Fluoride is more volatile than other substances present in water. It will vaporize from your drinking water container.
Adding fluoride into drinking water is known as water fluoridation which has numerous health benefits. An excessive amount of anything is bad, and so is the case with excessive fluoride. You can remove excessive fluoride from your drinking water by using the methods mentioned in this guide. I hope you find all the information in this article and fluoride-removing methods helpful.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do we check fluoride levels in drinking water?
Fluoride test kits are available in markets that are useful for monitoring fluoride levels in drinking water. You must dip the test strip into the water and wait for a few seconds. Remove the strip from the water and compare it with the reference chart. You will get to know the presence of fluoride in your drinking water.
2. Can boiling water remove fluoride?
Boiling drinking water can remove chlorine, but it isn’t effective for fluoride removal. In fact, some researches show that boiling water can increase fluoride content.
3. What is the recommended daily intake of fluoride for adults?
- Adult men (19+years) : 4mg
- Adult women (19+years) : 3mg
- Pregnant teens and women : 3mg