Welcome to the first installment of our series exploring the impact of various minerals found in our drinking water! In this initial post, we’ll delve into the world of fluoride, a mineral that has sparked both scientific support and public debate for decades. We’ll explore its history, its role in dental health, and the ongoing conversation surrounding its use in public water supplies.

Recently, the conversation around fluoride has been rejuvenated by our colleague, the water expert and Chief of Innovation at MERATCH, Andrej Mošať, who was talking about the fluoride in the water systems at the last NerdNite

A Historical Glimpse into Fluoride Research

The journey into understanding fluoride’s real impact on dental health began more than a century ago, marked by early observations of ‘Colorado Brown Stain’. This curiosity-driven exploration laid the groundwork for the fluoride we discuss today—a testament to the crucial role of persistent scientific inquiry.

remarked Andrej Mošať during his talk at Nerd Night.

Around the early 1900s, Dr. Frederick McKay observed a peculiar phenomenon: a high prevalence of brown stains on the teeth of his patients. Intrigued by this condition, later termed “Colorado Dental Brown Stain,” Dr. McKay invited a renowned dental researcher named Dr. G.V. Black to help him get to the root of the stain affecting those in Colorado Springs. Together they embarked on a series of investigations.

Their findings were pivotal: they discovered that communities with higher fluoride levels in their water had instances of brown but notably harder teeth, which were less prone to cavities.

This discovery led to decades of research which eventually supported the idea of fluoridating public water supplies. Starting around the mid-20th century, many countries began adding fluoride to their water systems, observing a significant decrease in dental decay, particularly among children.

Fluoridation Today: A Global Patchwork

Despite the initial success, the practice of water fluoridation isn’t uniform across the globe. In countries like Malaysia, fluoride has been actively added to the water supply as recently as the late 20th century with notable improvements in dental health. However, the approach varies significantly, with some regions like the former Czechoslovakia seeing political shifts that sway public health policies back and forth between fluoridation and its cessation.

Interestingly, while countries like the United States have seen benefits from fluoridation, others, such as Japan and China, are noted for their natural dietary practices and differing approaches to oral health, including pre-chewing food for children—a practice potentially increasing exposure to cariogenic bacteria.

The Dilemma of Dosage

The World Health Organization has set the recommended limit for fluoride in drinking water at 1.5 mg/L, which is the upper limit used by many countries around the world, including Canada, China, India, Australia, and the European Union. This level is intended to balance the benefits of fluoride for dental health while avoiding the risks of dental and skeletal fluorosis at higher concentrations.

As we observe the varied responses to fluoridation globally, it becomes clear that one size does not fit all in public health policies. Each community must assess the benefits and risks, adjusting their fluoride usage to meet specific health goals and local conditions.

Andrej MošaŤ, water expert & chief of innovationat at meratch

It’s important to note that while safe at recommended levels, some studies have investigated potential links between high fluoride intake and other health concerns. However, the vast majority of health organizations, including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), consider fluoridation at recommended levels to be safe and effective in preventing tooth decay.

Navigating the Fluoride Narrative

As we continue to navigate the benefits and drawbacks of fluoride, the key is balanced information and community-specific approaches. Whether it’s through water, salt, or dental products, ensuring safe fluoride levels remains a public health priority that requires ongoing research and nuanced understanding.

As dental health practices evolve and the dialogue around fluoride continues, staying informed and engaged with the latest research and guidelines will be crucial. 

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Andrej Mošať serves as the Chief of Innovation at MERATCH – Water Management, where he spearheads the research and development within the lab. With an extensive background in spectroscopy, Andrej has been instrumental in creating advanced IoT sensors that measure critical water quality indicators such as nitrates, pH, and turbidity. His expertise not only drives innovation but also ensures that MERATCH- Water Management’s technologies meet the highest standards of accuracy and reliability, contributing significantly to the field of environmental monitoring.