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Water fluoridation: What reporters need to know

Mary Otto
Mary Otto

For more than 65 years, communities across the United States have been supplementing naturally occurring fluoride in water supplies to promote oral health. At what are considered optimum levels, numerous studies have shown fluoride reduces cavities. But too much fluoride can be a bad thing, public health officials have acknowledged. Consumption at excess levels may cause fluorosis and skeletal deformities, research has found.

Fluoride has remained a source of controversy as evidenced by debates over fluoridation in a number of communities in recent months. Phoenix, Ariz., voted late last year to continue fluoridating its water while fluoridation was voted down in Wichita, Kan. In Portland, Ore., the city council approved fluoridation in September only to be overruled by voters earlier this month.

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