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The Department of Health and Human Services today announced that it will revise the recommended levels for optimally fluoridating community water systems. Historically, the recommended optimal level for community water fluoridation has been 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million. The new recommended level is 0.7 ppm.

The federal government is not recommending that communities stop adding fluoride to drinking water. Rather, it has recalibrated its recommendation for what it considers an effective level of fluoride to reduce the incidence of tooth decay while minimizing the rate of fluorosis in the general population, which has been slowly increasing. An HHS official has characterized the new recommendation as a reaffirmation of the safety and efficacy of community water fluoridation in preventing dental caries.

At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is announcing that it will study the issue of fluoride in water, based on a 2006 report from the National Academy of Sciences that questioned whether the EPA’s current maximum allowable level of fluoride in water—4 ppm—should be reduced. The EPA announcement does not question the safety of optimal water fluoridation.

That said, government officials anticipate some public confusion over fluoridation safety. HHS has asked the ADA and its members to help minimize any concerns and reassure the public that water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to prevent dental disease.

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