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American Dental Association Responds to Recent Article Questioning Safety of Fluoride

March 14, 2014

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CHICAGO — The American Dental Association (ADA) examined a February Lancet Neurology article, based largely on studies in China, and concludes the findings are not applicable to the U.S. The ADA continues to endorse fluoridation of public water as the most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.

The ADA notes that environmental conditions in China are significantly different from those in the U.S. In some areas of China, drinking water contains high levels of naturally occurring fluoride. In addition, many people in China are exposed to high levels of fluoride from other environmental sources.

The authors of the Lancet paper cite fluoride, pesticides and solvents as causes of brain disorders in children.  In the case of fluoride, the authors referenced studies of children exposed to unregulated fluoride in drinking water mainly in China who reportedly had lower IQs. However, according to the ADA, the best available scientific evidence shows no association between the recommended amount of fluoride used to prevent tooth decay and brain development or IQ.

When used in the appropriate amount, fluoride helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making teeth more resistant to decay. Fluoride is naturally present in all water sources. When the natural level of fluoride in drinking water is very low, community water fluoridation simply adjusts the amount to a recommended level to help prevent tooth decay.

According to the best available scientific evidence and nearly 70 years of experience, fluoridation is safe and effective. Fluoridation has been named by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of 10 great health achievements of the 20th century, and more than 100 U.S. and international health organizations including the World Health Organization recognize the public health benefits of community water fluoridation for preventing dental decay.

About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 162,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website