For many years in Australia we have suffered under the erroneous idea that putting fluoride into our drinking water is a good idea. This has been put forward on the grounds that tooth decay decreases as a consequence, but excess fluoride can actually damage tooth enamel and there is information from the USA that including fluoride in water supplies can cause excess fluoride intake on occasions.
In addition there is also evidence to suggest that excess fluoride intake is linked to bone cancer, bone fractures and thyroid gland dysfunction. Evidence suggests that fluoride in toothpastes is beneficial in reducing tooth decay, however ingesting it in the body is surely not a good idea.
What can we do as consumers? Unfortunately if you live in an area with fluoridated water (like Melbourne) your options are limited. Most common water filters do not remove fluoride. Bottled or distilled water or reverse osmosis filters are really the only options. If anyone knows of other alternatives, post a comment and let us know.
For more information on the fluoride debate visit http://www.ewg.org/fluoride