FAQ’s About Fluoride

Frequently Asked Questions About Fluoride

  1. What is fluoride? Fluoride is a chemical compound that is added to water to prevent dental decay. In Neenah we use hydrofluosilicic acid as a fluoride source.
  2. How does fluoride protect teeth? It protects teeth in two ways systemically (through ingestion) and topically (on the surface).
  3. How much fluoride is in Neenah water and what are considered safe levels? The plant feeds an average of 0.70 parts per million (ppm). The EPA and DNR both have maximum contaminant limits of 4.0 ppm.
  4. What standards are used to ensure safety? The American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have established safety standards for fluoride, which we follow in Neenah.
  5. Where does fluoride come from? Fluoride comes from a mineral, apatite, which contains 3%-7% fluoride. The mineral is ground up, treated with sulfuric acid and three products are produced; phosphoric acid used in fertilizer, calcium sulfate (gypsum) used in drywall and hydrofluosilicic acid (fluoride).
  6. Is fluoridation effective in fighting tooth decay? There is overwhelming medical evidence that it is effective for all ages, children, adolescents and adults.
  7. With other forms of fluoride available, is water fluoridation needed? Medical evidence shows that community wide decay does increase if water fluoridation is eliminated, even if topical products such as toothpaste and rinses are used.
  8. Does the medical and dental community support fluoridation? Every major dental and medical association strongly supports fluoridation. There are 150,000 dentists and 300,000 doctors in the U.S. who support fluoridation. The last 5 Surgeon Generals have strongly supported fluoridation.
  9. Does fluoride adversely affect human health? There is overwhelming medical evidence that shows fluoride to be safe for human consumption at the levels added at the water treatment plant. There is no affect on bone health, and fluoride at proper levels does not increase the risk of cancer. Fluoride does not affect human enzymes, thyroid gland function, pineal gland function, immune system function, neurological function, heart function, kidney function, allergic reactions, fertility, genetic hazard, Down Syndrome or Alzheimers Disease. However, the recent news indicates that fluoride can effect mottling (discoloration) of teeth in younger children.
  10. Is fluoride a toxic substance? At the levels added at the treatment plant, fluoride is not a toxic substance.
  11. What is dental fluorosis? It is a change in the appearance of teeth caused by higher than normal amounts of fluoride, usually at a young age.
  12. Why is there a warning label on a tube of fluoride toothpaste? The American Dental Association requires this to reduce the risk of dental fluorosis, not for the other adverse health risks listed in #9 above.
  13. Why is there opposition to community wide fluoridation? Some individuals view fluoride addition as limiting their freedom of choice; other opposition is from misinterpretation or inappropriate extrapolation of the science behind fluoridation.
  14. How many people in Wisconsin drink fluoridated water?Approximately 90% of the people on a public water supply, or over 3 million people drink fluoridated water. 281 public water systems fluoridate in Wisconsin. 41 have sufficient natural fluoride and do not need to fluoridate.
  15. Is fluoridation banned in Europe? No country in Europe bans fluoridation. In fact over 450 million people in Europe drink fluoridated water.
  16. Why fluoridate the entire water supply when the vast majority of water is not used for drinking? It is more cost effective to treat the entire stream than to treat and supply a separate stream of water.
  17. Is fluoridation a cost effective way to prevent tooth decay? Fluoridation has a cost to benefit ratio of 1:80. For every $1 spent, $80 in dental expenditures are saved.