Community sources of drinking water has been fluoridated since the 1950’s in Australia in order to improve dental health. By the time the 1970’s were in full swing, the tooth decay rate in Australia had dropped by 50% compared to the previous generation. So why is there debate about the safety of fluoride?
Fluoride naturally occurs in foods, and in small amounts in water, and the amount can vary depending on where the water comes from. We also ingest fluoride from the toothpaste we use, and when it can be added to our teeth at the dentist. The fluoride in fluoridated water is adjusted to help to reduce the risk of tooth decay in all age groups, but is not added in amounts that are damaging to health. Excessive intake of fluoride can cause dental fluorosis (discolouration of the teeth), although cases are uncommon and rare in Australia.
Fluoride is considered a normal part of the human body, and teeth and bones have more than 10,000 times the amount of fluoride than any other bodily fluid or tissue. The Adequate Intake for Australian males is 4mg/day, and for women is 3mg/day, which is based on what is determined to be adequate for determined groups of healthy people. The Upper Limit for daily intake is 10mg/day for all ages from 9 years old for both males and females. The Upper Limit is based on the risk of getting moderate dental fluorosis.
Water in Australia has between 0.6-1mg/L of fluoride TOTAL amount. So even by drinking 3L of tap water per day, you may not actually be exceeding the AI for the day.
There is some information suggesting that fluoridation may reduce overall fracture risk, no association between fluoridation and cancer incidence or mortality, and no other conclusions from evidence that there are any other possible negative health effects.
There are many groups now who are uncertain about the benefits of fluoridation in the water supply, and are choosing alternate options, such as bottle water, or use filtration systems to reduce the amount of fluoride in the water. This is a personal choice, and is entirely optional. But there are no negative health effects of consuming fluoridated water.