Fluoride cuts cavities and tooth decay, but health officials worry that it's damaging kids' teeth in other ways.
By Amy Capetta
Excessive fluoride in U.S. drinking water is causing an irreversible condition known as dental fluorosis to affect children's teeth. In response, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a limitation on the amount of fluoride, which is added to water to prevent cavities and tooth decay, to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. Since 1962, the recommended fluoride levels have been between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams.
The lacy white spotting and streaking indicative of dental fluorosis develop when children's teeth are forming.
"It can result when children regularly consume higher-than-recommended amounts of fluoride during the teeth forming years, age 8 and younger," Dr. Scott M. Presson, Dental Public Health Consultant and past chair of the American Public Health Association, told AOL Health.
Aside from having a cosmetic impact on teeth, dental fluorosis can disturb cells that affect maturation of the enamel, causing increased porosity and resulting in the pitting, chipping, fracturing and decaying of teeth. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two out of five adolescents suffer from the condition due to excessive fluoride from drinking artificially fluoridated water or water that is naturally high in fluoride.
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