Is Fluoride in Drinking Water Good or Bad?

Fluorine chemical symbol 9

Last Updated: 9/1/2020

For several years, the topic of adding fluoride in drinking water supplies has been largely controversial. There are many people who have long supported the potential health benefits of fluoride in drinking water. While others have expressed their opposition to what they consider forced medication by the government, and some have even voiced their doubts about the health benefits of water fluoridation.

Due to the longstanding controversy, the Quench Water Experts are here to dish you everything you need to know about water fluoridation, including answering the two most prominent questions within this topic 1) what are the benefits of fluoride in water, and 2) is fluoride bad for you.

We hope by providing you with the fluoride in water pros and cons, you will walk away from this article informed and empowered to make your own conclusions.

The Facts About Fluoride in Drinking Water

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2/3 of Americans drink fluoride through public water. Public drinking water becomes fluoridated when the naturally occurring fluoride levels are adjusted with chemical fluoride to the optimal fluoride levels. Optimal water fluoridation levels are recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service to prevent tooth decay.

In 1962, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommended that public tap water contain between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams of fluoride per liter. But recently, the department changed its recommendation level to not exceed 0.7 milligrams per liter because many receive fluoride through toothpaste, mouthwash, and other products, making fluoride in drinking water less essential.

Studies have shown that water fluoridation prevents tooth decay. The fluoride in water bonds with teeth to make them more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria. Since January of 1945, when Grand Rapids, Michigan became the world’s first city to adjust its level of fluoride in water, water fluoridation has been met with controversy. We created the following list of fluoride in water pros and cons to help you answer the age-old questions “is fluoride bad for you?” and “what are the benefits of fluoride in water?”

The Pros of Fluoride in Drinking Water

  • Fluoride is endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the CDC as a safe and effective way to reduce cavities.
  • CDC lists it as one of the top 10 more important public health measures of the 20th Century.
  • Studies show that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by about 25% over a person’s lifetime.
  • Having fluoride in public drinking water sources is the least expensive way to deliver the benefits of fluoride in water to all residents of a community, regardless of age, income, education, or socioeconomic status.
  • For every $1 invested in water fluoridation, approximately $38 is saved in dental treatment costs.
  • The greatest benefits are obtained by children who drink fluoridated water since birth; teeth made stronger during childhood due to water fluoridation would remain permanently resistant to decay.

The Cons of Fluoride in Drinking Water

  • Many feel it is an unethical form of mass-medication as individuals do not give consent.
  • Fluoride dosage cannot be controlled, meaning that people who drink more water ingest more fluoride.
  • Excess fluoride exposure can lead to dental fluorosis, which creates white streaks or brown stains on teeth, creates pits in teeth or even break the enamel of the teeth.
  • Research has shown that fluoride works best when it is applied topically, not ingested.
  • Multiple studies have shown there is no significant link between fluoride exposure and tooth decay.
  • Most developed nations, including Japan and 97% of western Europe, do not conduct water fluoridation on their public water supply.
  • Studies have shown that even low levels of fluoride have been linked to negative health outcomes, like bone fractures, thyroid disorders, and impaired brain development and function.

The Quench Solution

As evident from the list above, the effects of fluoride in water vary. It is up to you to decide what is best for you and your employees. 

If you feel the benefits of fluoride in water outweigh the costs, then Quench’s 5-stage carbon filtration is right for you. Our 5-stage carbon filtration will not remove fluoride from drinking water, although it does remove sediment, chemicals, odors, and off-tastes.

Those of you who are against fluoride in drinking water might be asking yourself, “how to get fluoride out of water?” Well, we have your answer… a reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system. RO filtration systems will remove fluoride from your workplace drinking water, as well as a variety of contaminants. Some Quench bottleless machines come standard with RO filtration, including the Quench Q12, while others offer RO filtration as an upgrade, including the Quench Q3, Quench Q4, Quench Q5, Quench Q7, and Quench Q8.

To learn more about how to get fluoride out of water, please our reverse osmosis blog. For more details on the state-of-the-art filtration and purification technologies used in all of our Quench bottleless water coolers, click here. And to see which Quench bottleless water cooler is best for your workplace, use our Product Finder.