If you’ve wondered if well water contains fluoride, the answer is probably yes. It’s a naturally-occurring mineral that helps prevent cavities by strengthening tooth enamel. Fluoride is present in virtually all waters, and it is important to know the fluoride content of your water. The fluoride content of your well water can be determined only through laboratory analysis. This post will talk about fluoride in water—good and bad.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral found in soil, rocks, and water. It helps prevent tooth decay by making the surface of your teeth more resistant to acids produced by bacteria that cause cavities. Fluoride can occur naturally or be added to drinking water by public utilities or private wells. Fluoride has been shown to reduce tooth decay by up to 25% when used in toothpaste or mouth rinses; however, it has not been proven effective if swallowed during the normal use of these products.
Fluoride helps tooth enamel.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water and soil. The human body needs fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride is a mineral that helps form tooth enamel, the hard layer that protects your teeth. It’s found in many foods and water sources. Fluoride helps prevent cavities by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria or sugars in food and drinks.
The amount of fluoride in water varies by region; it can also vary from season to season when rainwater mixes with well water (particularly if you have an uncovered well). The American Dental Association recommends toothpaste with 1,000 parts per million (ppm) fluoride when brushing your teeth twice daily. Avoid mouth rinses with added sodium lauryl sulfate because they may cause inflammation around plaque deposits on your gums.
Is fluoride safe?
According to the best available scientific evidence, fluoride in water at the recommended level is not toxic.
Toxicity is related to dose. While large amounts of fluoride could be toxic, it is important to recognize the difference between the effect of a massive quantity of an extremely high level of fluoride versus the fluoride level currently recommended for public water systems. Like many common substances essential to life and good health—salt, iron, vitamins A and D, chlorine, oxygen, and even water—fluoride can be toxic in massive quantities.
According to the ADA, “Fluoride at the much lower recommended concentrations (0.7 mg/L) used in community water fluoridation is not harmful or toxic. The single dose of fluoride that could cause acute fluoride toxicity is 5 mg/kg of body weight (11mg/kg of body weight of sodium fluoride). This dose is considered the probably toxic dose (PTD), which is the minimum dose that could cause serious or life-threatening systemic signs and symptoms and should trigger immediate therapeutic intervention and hospitalization. Acute fluoride toxicity occurring from the ingestion of optimally fluoridated water is impossible. With water fluoridated at 1 mg/L, an individual would need to drink five (5) liters for every kilogram of body weight. For example, an adult male (155 pounds/70.3-kilogram man) would require that he consume more than 350 liters (nearly 93 gallons) of water at one time to reach an acute fluoride dose. With optimal water now set at 0.7 mg/L, it would take almost 30% more, or nearly 120 gallons (more than 1,900 eight-ounce glasses) of water at one time to reach the acute dose. Water fluoridation is safe, effective, and healthy. Seventy years of research, thousands of studies and the experience of more than 210 million Americans tell us that water fluoridation effectively prevents cavities and is safe for children and adults.”
The amount of fluoride in your drinking water depends on where you live and how much naturally occurring fluoride is present in your local groundwater supply. If there’s not enough fluoride in your well water, it can be added at the point of use (for example, by adding drops to each glass or pitcher).
How much fluoride is in my well water?
Well water can be naturally occurring or artificially added to the ground through pumping, but what’s important to know is that sometimes it is only reliably safe to drink with additional treatment.
Wells are drilled into aquifers (underground water reservoirs), which may contain naturally occurring chemicals like fluoride. Fluoride is an ionic compound found in rocks and soil throughout most of Earth’s crust, so you’ll find it in almost every groundwater supply—and, therefore, your well water too!
Fluoride has several benefits for dental health: it strengthens tooth enamel, helps prevent cavities by remineralizing teeth after acid attacks them during digestion, and prevents plaque buildup on teeth via anti-microbial properties (this prevents gum disease). However, you could ingest too much fluoride over time. In that case, it could cause fluorosis on your teeth, which results in discoloration or pitting of enamel due to excess exposure (usually during childhood).
Can I get too much fluoride?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined that drinking water’s optimal amount of fluoride is 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The department advises that exposure to more than two mg/L can cause dental fluorosis, a discoloration of tooth enamel caused by too much fluoride during childhood.
Fluoride supplements are also available as drops or tablets. Still, these should be used only under a doctor’s supervision because they can cause serious side effects if you take too much or combine them with other medications that contain fluoride. The chance of developing fluorosis exists through approximately age eight when the teeth still form under the gums. Fluoride intake from other sources, such as toothpaste and mouth rinse, may also contribute to the chance of fluorosis for children living in non-fluoridated and fluoridated communities. Getting the right amount of fluoride is best—not too much or too little. Your dentist, pediatrician, or family physician can help you determine the proper amount of fluoride for your child.
Does reverse osmosis remove fluoride?
Reverse osmosis is a process that removes contaminants from water. It does this by forcing the water through a membrane that traps and removes particles. Fluoride is one of those particles, so yes—reverse osmosis will remove fluoride from your well water.
If you have questions about fluoride in your water, contact c and j
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