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What is Fluoride? Print E-mail
Written by Glenn Rosenberg   
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Fluoride is a trace mineral. It is present in the body in a very small amount. Most fluoride in the body is found in the bones and teeth.

Although there is no recommended dietary allowance, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences has established an adequate intake (AI) for fluoride:
- infants ages 0 through 6 months = 0.01mg/day
- infants > age 6 months = 0.05 mg/day
- infants ages 7 to 12 months = 0.5 mg/day
- ages 1 to 3 years = 0.7 mg/day
- ages 4 to 8 years = 1 mg/day
- ages 9 to 13 years = 2 mg/day
- ages 14 to 18 years = 3 mg/day
- males age 19 years or older = 4 mg/day
- females age 19 years or older = 3 mg/day

The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs recommends fluoride supplements beginning at 6 months and continuing until age 16 for children who live in areas where the water does not contain fluoride. However, because foods processed with fluoridated water can contain significant amounts of fluoride, all sources of fluoride in a child's diet should be identified before beginning fluoride supplementation.

Some people have concerns about the safety of fluoridated water. Fluoride has been studied for many years. The levels used in fluoridated water pose no danger of harmful effects to health and help to greatly reduce the risk of tooth decay and other periodontal diseases. Extensive research has proven that communities with fluoridation of drinking water at a level of 1 part per million do not have higher rates of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer''s disease, Down syndrome, or liver disease. Still, about 46% of public water supplies are still not fluoridated.

The amount of fluoride in well water can vary greatly. Well water should be tested to determine the amount of fluoride it contains. Home water filters may remove a significant amount of fluoride from water. However, water softeners do not seem to change fluoride levels.

Too much fluoride can cause mottled teeth or dental fluorosis. Fluorosis can range from very mild to severe. Mild fluorosis causes chalky white spots or patches on the teeth. These teeth are highly resistant to cavities. Severe fluorosis causes the teeth to have brownish stains. The teeth are healthy, but they are stained. Fluorosis usually affects people who drink well water that naturally contains high levels of fluoride.

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