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two-thirds of Americans, fluoride is added to your tap water for the purpose of reducing cavities.

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Others argue against water fluoridation on ethical grounds, saying the process forces people to consume a substance they may not know is there—or that they’d rather avoid.

Despite concerns about safety and ethics, many are content to continue fluoridation because of its purported benefit: that it reduces tooth decay.

Water fluoridation, which first began in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and expanded nationwide over the years, has always been controversial.

Those opposed to the process have argued—and a growing number of studies have suggested—that the chemical may present a number of health risks, for example interfering with the endocrine system and increasing the risk of impaired brain function; two studies in the last few months, for example, have linked fluoridation to ADHD and underactive thyroid.

“My prior view was completely reversed."2001 study covered in the Cochrane review of two neighboring British Columbia communities found that when fluoridation was stopped in one city, cavity prevalence actually went down slightly amongst schoolchildren, while cavity rates in the fluoridated community remained stable.

“The fact that there is insufficient information to determine whether fluoridation reduces social inequalities in dental health is troublesome given that this is often cited as a reason for fluoridating water,” say Studies that attest to the effectiveness of fluoridation were generally done before the widespread usage of fluoride-containing dental products like rinses and toothpastes in the 1970s and later, according to the recent Cochrane study.

Indeed, cavity rates This condition occurs when fluoride interferes with the cells that produce enamel, creating white flecks on the teeth.

On average, about 12 percent of people in fluoridated areas have fluorosis bad enough that it qualifies as an “aesthetic concern,” according to the review.

So while it may have once made sense to add fluoride to water, it no longer appears to be necessary or useful, Thiessen says.according to the CDC.

It reacts with the surface of the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acids excreted by bacteria.

These papers determined that fluoridation does not reduce cavities to a statistically significant degree in permanent teeth, says study co-author Anne-Marie Glenny, a health science researcher at Manchester University in the United Kingdom.

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