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U.S. Officials Recommend Reduced Fluoride Levels in Water
Date:1/8/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. government officials said Friday that the amount of fluoride in the nation's drinking water should now be set at the lowest recommended level.

Although fluoride is a significant help in preventing cavities and tooth decay, too much of it can cause unattractive spotting on children's teeth. About two out of five teens have white spots and streaks on their teeth due to too much fluoride, according to a recent government study.

To prevent this problem, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are recommending that the fluoride level in drinking water be set at 0.7 milligrams per liter of water, replacing the current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams.

"One of water fluoridation's biggest advantages is that it benefits all residents of a community -- at home, work, school, or play," HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard K. Koh said in a statement. "Today's announcement is part of our ongoing support of appropriate fluoridation for community water systems, and its effectiveness in preventing tooth decay throughout one's lifetime."

One reason for the new recommendation is that over the years the sources of fluoride have increased from water to include toothpastes, mouth wash, fluoride supplements and fluoride applied by dentists, EPA and HHS officials noted.

According to the agencies, this new recommendation allows the maximum prevention of tooth decay through fluoridation, while reducing the possibility of children getting too much fluoride.

Overexposure to fluoride results in a condition known as fluorosis, which can damage children's developing teeth.

In the United States fluorosis is usually mild, seen as barely visible lacy white markings or spots on the enamel. The severe form of fluorosis, which causes staining and pitting of the tooth surfac
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