The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a joint announcement over the weekend recommending that the level of fluoride in U.S. drinking water supplies be lowered to prevent dental problems.
Fluoride has been added to community drinking water supplies since the 1940s to help prevent tooth decay. Today, about 184 million Americans, or nearly 70 percent of the population, drink fluoridated water.
But according to the HHS, the current levels that we're drinking may be too high. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced plans to lower the agency's maximum recommended fluoride level from 1.2 milligrams per liter of water to 0.7.
The HHS recommendation comes on the heels of data that found that excess fluoride consumption during the a child's tooth-forming years (ages 8 and younger) may lead to dental fluorosis, a condition in which teeth can become streaked or spotty due to excess fluoride.
In the wake of the HHS recommendation, the EPA announced that it will review the maximum amount of fluoride that will be allowed in drinking water.