Water fluoridation is the process of intentionally adding or adjusting the levels of fluoride in water. Fluoride is generally added because it has been found that fluoride can help to prevent peoples’ teeth from decaying. Many governments, such as those in the United States, Greece, and New Zealand, take the initiative to try to help their citizens in this way.
Fluorides are minerals that can be found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and water. It is believed that they strengthen the enamel on the teeth so that the teeth become more resistant to acids and bacteria. In many areas, it is believed that the amount of fluoride in the water naturally is not sufficient to offer these benefits. The purpose of water fluoridation is to ensure the proper level of concentration.
It is not uncommon to find that within a country the water fluoridation process greatly varies from one place to another. Some places may be regarded as having a sufficient amount of the mineral and nothing needs to be done. When fluoride is added, it may be increased by different amounts in different locations. In some places, however, the amount of fluoride is considered excessive and may be reduced.
It is commonly believed that low levels of fluoride pose no health threats. In larger doses, fluoride can result in problems. Dental fluorosis is damage caused to the teeth due to excessive fluoride intake. This is believed to be most likely to happen when naturally occurring levels of fluoride are too high. This is one reason that fluoride is sometimes reduced.
Some people argue that water fluoridation causes other problems. It is widely held that if a significant amount of fluoride is ingested, it could result in fluoride poisoning. Many people deny that there are reasonable chances of this happening from the concentrations that are generally found in water.
Their opponents, however, tend to believe that fluoride can be toxic when added to drinking water. Some believe that ingesting too much fluoride can cause problems with the bones. These people often claim that water fluoridation can lead to hip fractures, cancer, and liver damage. They also point to studies that show that fluoride does not offer as much protection to the teeth as was originally thought.
Water fluoridation is generally considered an economically sound decision by supporters. If fluoride was not added to water, it would be suggested that many people, especially children, be given supplements in another form. Calculations generally show that offering the potential benefits to everyone through drinking water is cheaper than having a smaller portion of people pay for individual products.