Water fluoridation began in the United States in Grand Rapids, Michigan in1945. It is considered one of the Ten Great Health Achievements of the 20th Century. In spite of this, many people don’t know how much fluoride is in their water — and although I find this hard to believe, it seems that water fluoridation isn’t a topic that comes up around the dinner table each night!
Most people get their water from either public water systems or a private well. Here’s how to find the fluoride concentration:
Find Out How Much Fluoride is in Your Public Water System
Method #1: Visit a website. If your municipality provides your tap water, then you’re in luck because there’s a simple site to find out your water fluoride concentration that the Center for Disease Control has made.
It’s called My Water’s Fluoride. All you have to do is click that link, then click on your state and county. You also need to know your municipality name or your water company’s name. If you’re unsure, you can take a look at a recent water bill.
The site will then tell you a number of interesting facts about your water, like how many people it serves, where the water comes from, how much fluoride it contains, and when fluoridation started.
Method #2: Simply call your water service provider. They should have a contact number on every bill you receive. Most water companies will be happy to give you the fluoride concentration over the phone.
Find Out How Much Fluoride is in Your Well-Water
Since you probably don’t know how many fluorite crystals your well-water rubbed up against before it got to your well, it would be a good idea to get your water tested for fluoride. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t have to be expensive!
Method #1: Get Your Well-Water Professionally Tested. This can end up being rather expensive, depending on how you go about it. If you look in your phonebook and get someone to come to your house, that might be rather expensive.
Another way you could do it would be to find a water testing company online. Simply searching on Google for fluoride water testing gives you quite a bit of sponsored advertisements for companies that want to test your water for a fee. They usually have you fill up a bottle or two that they provide and then send it to their laboratory. Then they test it and send you the results. These can be good companies, but you should be careful as some companies may be fraudulent. It’s best to ask around your circle of friends to see if any of them have had their water tested and have any recommendations.
Method #2: Test Your Water Yourself. This is probably the method I would choose if I drank well-water. There are various kits that you can receive that will allow you to test your own water at home. 3M is a fairly respectable company and they provide one such test called the Fluoricheck Water Analysis Kit. It is inexpensive and should provide fairly accurate results. (Note, I had to remove the link as it appears that 3M discontinued the Fluoricheck system). Another option is to buy a fluoride meter such as this one, although they can be finicky and rather expensive.
What is the Optimal Water Fluoride Concentration?
The optimal fluoride concentration ranges from 0.7 to 1.2 ppm (parts per million, also known as milligrams per liter). If you live in a warmer climate, you will want less fluoride in your water, since you’ll probably be drinking a lot more. If you live in a colder climate, then you will want more fluoride in your water since you probably won’t be drinking as much.
In fact, some water companies even adjust the level of fluoride in their water based on the season. During the summer when people tend to consume more water, they will decrease the amount of fluoride, and during the winter they will increase the concentration of fluoride in the water.
What If I Don’t Have Enough Fluoride In My Water?
If your water contains less than 0.7 ppm, then there are ways to get more fluoride, such as drinking water from public sources that are fluoridated, prescription fluoride supplements, brushing with fluoride-containing toothpaste, and using fluoride-containing mouthwash.
Also, since over half of the United States receives fluoridated water, fluoride can be found in many canned and bottled beverages as well as processed foods.
To be honest, I grew up without fluoride in my water and I did have a few cavities growing up, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal to me. Sure, maybe fluoridated water would have prevented one of those cavities, but it doesn’t keep me up at night.
How Much Fluoride Is Too Much?
Fluoride continues to help your teeth resist cavities at all concentrations. However, too much fluoride can cause enamel fluorosis which can range in appearance from small white imperfections in your teeth to unsightly brown stained teeth.
The CDC recommends that children under 8 years of age not drink water that is fluoridated above 2 ppm, as it could result in enamel fluorosis in developing teeth. If you’re over 8 years old, then the CDC recommends not consuming water that is fluoridated above 4 ppm. If your well water is that high, I would recommend installing a filter that can effectively reduce the amount of fluoride in your water.
If you have any experiences with fluoridated water or any questions, please share them in the comments section below.