How safe is fluoride in water?
The safety of our drinking water is determined by federal, state, and local regulations. The main federal law that ensures the safety of Americans' drinking water is the Safe Drinking Water Act. Under this law, the US Environmental Protection Agency determines standards for drinking water safety, including those for fluoride.
In addition, CDC monitors the public health benefits and risks of community water fluoridation from studies published by panels of experts from health and scientific fields. These reviews, conducted over many years, have concluded that water fluoridation is both safe and effective. For example, in 2013, a review by the Community Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, nonfederal, unpaid panel of public health experts, concluded that research evidence "does not demonstrate that community water fluoridation results in any unwanted health effect other than dental fluorosis" (white spots on teeth). See Scientific Reviews: Assessing the Evidence for more information.
What is dental fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of the tooth's enamel. These changes can vary from barely noticeable white spots in mild forms to staining and pitting in the more severe forms. Dental fluorosis only occurs when children age 8 and younger take in fluoride from any source over long periods when teeth are developing under the gums.
If you are concerned about dental fluorosis or have questions, talk to your dentist or other dental professional.
See our dental fluorosis "frequently asked questions" for more information.
See our Fact Sheet on Use of Infant Formula and Dental Fluorosis.
Infant Formula and Fluorosis
The proper amount of fluoride at all stages of life helps prevent and control tooth decay. Recent studies have raised the possibility that mixing infant formula with fluoridated water, particularly for infants exclusively on a formula diet during the first year of life, may play a more important role in dental fluorosis development than was previously understood.
NAS on Fluoride in Drinking Water
The National Academy of Sciences, including its National Research Council (NRC), has considered the health effects of fluoride in drinking water on several occasions. Additional information on the NRC and its reports can be found on National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on Fluoride in Drinking Water.
- Page last reviewed: May 13, 2015
- Page last updated: May 13, 2015
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