Fluoridation of drinking water began 60 years ago in the United States, and it continues in 60% of public water supplies in the country today. Much of Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand have fluoridated water, but most developed non-English speaking countries have rejected this practice as nonbeneficial and possibly harmful.
Current fluoridating agents, sodium hexafluorosilicate and hexafluorosilicic acid, which replaced sodium fluoride by 1980, differ from the calcium fluoride in naturally fluoridated water, which was the basis for claims of tooth decay prevention in early epidemiologic studies. Studies reported in the past 15 years support only possible slight benefits from water fluoridation for the deciduous teeth of 5-year-old children, although topical fluoride treatments may be effective.
Harmful effects may include bone and tooth fractures and increased cancer rates.
Complex legal maneuvers have been used in an effort to prevent or stop fluoridation. The case against it has been weakened by opponents’ condemnation of all organofluorine compounds.
Individuals can use several methods to remove fluoride from water.