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Fluoride in Water

22 October 2013

Fluoride in Water: Good or Bad?

There is big debate as to whether fluoride in the water is good or bad for your health and if it should be introduced to the UK water supply. It is an issue that we have followed closely because any changes to water supply affect us all.

Fluoride can be found in the water supply in some parts of the UK. In fact around half a million people in the UK receive water into their homes which has fluoride in it naturally. The amount of fluoride in the water supply varies depending on whereabouts in the UK you live. However, 5.5 million people receive water that has had fluoride added and this figure may be increased as the government and local councils continue to debate whether fluoride should be added to the water supply. The government recommends that fluoride should be added to the water in areas where the amount of naturally occurring fluoride is low.

What is fluoridation?

The process of adding fluoride to the supply of drinking water is known as fluoridation. Fluoride is added at a concentration of one part per million in the UK.

Where in the UK is fluoridated?

The below map from the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI are an independent organisation that checks the quality of drinking water supplies in England and Wales) shows you the areas of the UK where in the water is fluoridated and the levels of fluoride in the water. West Midlands has the biggest water fluoridation scheme in the country with 84% of the local population receiving fluoridated water.

Flouride in water uk map

Why is water fluoridated?

The main reason for fluoridation is that fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and this in turn helps protect against tooth decay. Fluoride has proven benefits to oral health.

Dangers of Fluoridation

There is very limited research into the long term dangers associated with fluoridation and this has raised a number of serious concerns.

The major concerns include the following:

  • Universal dose
  • Fluorosis
  • Damage to bones
  • Sensitivity to Fluoride
  • Other potential health issues
  • Ethical dilemma around ‘enforced medication’

Universal Dose

With fluoridation, everybody receives the same amount of fluoride in their water whether they need it or not. It doesn’t matter if you are a small child or a fully grown adult, you will still be ingesting the same levels of fluoride.

When fluoridation occurs it is on the basis of one part per million. This concentration of one part per million was based on an educated guess in the 1940s and is not based on any scientific evidence around long term exposure of fluoride. Remember this level of fluoride goes to everyone: there is no accounting for age, size, health, or vulnerability.

It makes sense that fluoride should be consumed at different levels by different people. This is particularly true when it comes to young children and babies, especially when you consider that fluoride is added to other products now like toothpaste. If your baby is bottle fed then the levels of fluoride ingested are dangerously high in fluoridated areas.

Fluorosis

Dental Fluorosis occurs when someone is exposed to too much fluoride, especially in children (look out for very fine pearly white lines or flecking on the surface of the teeth.) Fluorosis leads to the discoloration of the teeth with them becoming brown and appearing stained. It is the most common and widely known side-effect of fluoridation.

Fluorosis from fluoride in water supply

Mild dental fluorosis

Damage to Bones

As fluorosis occurs in the teeth, a similar process will happen with bones as they absorb the fluoride you consume. Very little is known about the long-term damage this can cause but there is evidence that fluoride does in fact damage bones and can lead to an increased chance of hip fractures in the elderly. It has also been linked to bone cancer (osteosarcoma).

Sensitivity to Fluoride

Some people experience adverse reactions from increased fluoride consumption. These are a small minority but hypersensitivity to fluoride would be a major concern for them. Some health conditions may also need to avoid ingesting these levels of fluoride.

Other Potential Health Issues

Fluoride has been linked to several other health problems including:

  • Stomach pain/Indigestion
  • Damage to joints, connective tissue and the brain

Ethical dilemma related to choice

Fluoride is introduced to water supply as a means of medication. With fluoridation you are not able to choose whether you receive this medication which poses an ethical dilemma around enforced medication.

There are also some serious doubts as to whether consuming fluoride in the water supply is anywhere near as effective as having it in toothpaste and applying it topically to the teeth.

Here is a video from Professor Stephen Peckham discussing the concerns around fluoridation in more detail in a lecture:

Fluoridation is widely used in the United States where around 70% of the water is fluoridated. This widespread fluoridation has not solved the problem of dental decay in children. Research that shows improved oral health since fluoridation coincides with a general trend of better oral hygiene.

Removing Fluoride from your Water Supply

At Aquatec – the Pure Water People our whole house water purification systems remove fluoride from your water supply through our scientific purification process. The water that enters your homes goes through seven phases of purification before coming out of your home tap to ensure that fluoride doesn’t enter your body.

Our water purification system removes fluoride along with a number of other chemicals to leave you with drinking water that is 98% pure. Your local water supplier will be able to tell you whether fluoride is being added to your water supply. If you want any more information on fluoride or our whole house water purification systems please call us on 0117 9109988 or let us call you by leaving your details here. To find out more about the other health benefits of pure water click here.

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