Fluoridation recommendations have changed, but just a little

I’m getting a lot of weirdly gloating emails this week telling me that my past writings on fluoridation are now proven wrong, because the government had “confirmed” it’s harmful. Um… no:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today released the final Public Health Service (PHS) recommendation for the optimal fluoride level in drinking water to prevent tooth decay. The new recommendation is for a single level of 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water. It updates and replaces the previous recommended range (0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter) issued in 1962.

So the old recommendation was for fluoridation to be 0.7 – 1.2 milligrams per liter. Now, it’s just 0.7 milligrams per liter. Why the change? Cosmesis.

The change was recommended because Americans now have access to more sources of fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, than they did when water fluoridation was first introduced in the United States. As a result, there has been an increase in fluorosis, which, in most cases, manifests as barely visible lacy white marking or spots on the tooth enamel. The new recommended level will maintain the protective decay prevention benefits of water fluoridation and reduce the occurrence of dental fluorosis.

No one is changing their minds on the benefits of fluoride. No one is changing their minds on its harm. But there’s a continued recognition that too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis, or a barely visible spotting of the teeth. In response, they’re erring on the lower side of supplementation. So be it. I can’t fault them for that.

So, please, stop with the emails. Everything I said here is still true:


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