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What are the advantages and disadvantages of adding fluoride to drinking water?

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Quick Answer

As of 2014, most public water systems in the United States are treated with fluoride, according to HealthResearchFunding.org. Fluoride is valuable in oral care and prevention of tooth decay, but it does pose some health risks to people dealing with certain conditions.

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Full Answer

Regular use of fluoride can drastically reduce the number of cavities a person develops in teeth. Thus, drinking public water that is treated with fluoride minimizes decay. Not only is direct contact of the tooth surface beneficial, but fluoride also provides ongoing oral care benefits when one generates saliva with fluoride already in the system. The benefits of fluoride-treated water are especially important to low-income families who cannot afford regular dental care. Elderly people may also enjoy extended benefits for their natural teeth by regularly drinking water with fluoride, according to Fluoride Information Network.

One of the disadvantages of drinking fluoride-treated water is that it can magnify health risks related to kidney disease, indicates HealthResearchFunding.org. A broader problem is that the Centers for Disease Control indicates that some spots and wearing of enamel on teeth can be attributed to excess fluoride. Adults who drank treated water as children often have visible spots on their teeth. People take in excess fluoride when using fluoride rinses while also drinking treated water. Some people view fluoride-treated water as a sociopolitical issue, as it is often intended to help specific groups who don't get regular dental care.

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