Access to clean water is a modern-day commodity and as such tap water is the subject of much scrutiny. Water safety is still something many of us are concerned about, especially when faced with unwanted substances that are intentionally added to tap water. Fluoride is one such substance that is deliberately added, among other ones like chlorine.
What Exactly Is Fluoride?
Fluorides are fluorine compounds that can occur naturally in water, air, or soil. When ingested, fluoride gets absorbed and gathers in areas that are high in calcium such as teeth and bones. Naturally occurring fluoride comes in varying amounts depending on each region. It can infiltrate into the water source and raise the fluoride concentration already present.
Benefits of Fluoride Use in Tap Water
Fluoride is one of the components in toothpaste, as it was shown to help improve tooth decay. This included reducing cavity growth, and thus providing a reduced need for fillings or tooth removal. Fluoride was introduced in tap water sources by municipalities in an effort to boost these positive effects of fluoride on the health of teeth.
Small doses of fluoride have been proven to be very effective in combating tooth decay. This is especially true when facing the many risks rich modern food pose to people’s teeth. High concentrations of sugary starchy foods have made tooth decay a highly prevalent issue for many. Children are most susceptible to this and are the ones benefiting the most from water fluoridation.
Fluoride was purposefully introduced into drinking water as early as the 1940’s in the US and 1960s in the UK. As well-intentioned as these efforts have been, many households feel as if the choice was taken away from them. This is where certain controversies around water fluoridation come into play.
Risks of Having Excessive Amounts of Fluoride
Higher levels of fluoride in drinking water can lead to a higher risk of dental fluorosis. This usually manifests itself as white streaks and patches on the teeth. Although not a harmful development it will lead to a few visits to the dentist and a change in lifestyle to eliminate it.
Continued exposure to fluoride may lead to skeletal fluorosis. This disease usually damages bones and joints by hardening them and limiting elasticity. This type of disease usually occurs in much warmer climates where water consumption is much greater. Skeletal fluorosis can lead to calcifications of tendons and ligaments. Thyroid problems are another health risk caused by excessive fluoride exposure as it affects the parathyroid gland.
The issue with intentional water fluoridation is that the levels of exposure to it can vary from person to person. Depending on weight, age, or even health, fluoride may have some adverse effects. The main concern many affirm is that the amount of fluoride might not be easy to control and excessive intake could exceed healthy amounts.
There are also many environmental concerns with fluoride in drinking water. Tap water is used for more than just drinking and, as such, a good amount of that water ends up flushed down the drain. With the slew of substances already ending up in rivers and oceans, it seems a risk to add more to the pile.
How to Deal with Excessive Fluoride in Drinking Water?
Water filtration systems are becoming more and more common in households. An ideal water filtration system usually deals with harsh contaminants like metals but it can also be the best fluoride water filter. A vast majority of them are equipped to deal with fluoride removal.
One of the most efficient water filtration systems that encompass a wide range of filtration options is a reverse osmosis filter. These are considered the standard in their efficiency, which of course includes taking out fluoride. Essentially how this works is by passing water through a semi-permeable membrane that entraps contaminants. Additional layers of filtration like activated carbon make for an even more efficient water cleaning process, and ultimately create multiple stages by which water is purified.
Safe Drinking Water Is Invaluable
Water safety is a major cause for worry in many areas, so looking for ways to ensure it’s safe to drink can be invaluable. Although tap water is treated in facilities supervised by the municipality, the thought of added substances on purpose is not something many want to deal with. As of yet, unfortunately, there is no viable way of passing up fluoride in tap water. The only option then is to make use of water filtration systems that help reduce the amount of fluoride.