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What is the Safe Limit for Fluoride in Water and Why Should You Opt for Fluoride Testing?

An Overview of Fluoride in Water

Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound that can enter drinking water sources such as underwater reservoirs and wells by dissolving into water as it seeps through the soil. What this means is that, in places with large amounts of naturally occurring fluoride in the soil or subterranean rock, the levels of fluoride in these water sources will be higher than in other areas. In most areas of the US, naturally occurring fluoride levels are relatively low.

However, a second source of fluoride in drinking water is from city water systems adding it to their water. This process of adding fluoride began in 1945 when it was discovered that low levels of fluoride in water helped to promote better tooth and gum health, especially for children whose teeth were just forming. As communities learned of this discovery and of subsequent positive results from water fluoridation, more and more of them began adding fluoride to their drinking water. But the question remains, is fluoride in drinking water safe, especially for children?

Is Fluoride in Drinking Water Safe?

Studies have shown that consuming too much fluoride, especially by children whose teeth are just forming, can lead to a condition called dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is a buildup of fluoride on the teeth leading to white spots and pits in the teeth. It is most common in children under 8 years of age. Other deleterious effects of too much fluoride are that it can build up in the bones and lead to brittleness in the bones of elderly people. A third concern is about fluoride’s potential role in osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. This evidence is still just ambiguous and no clear link has been made, but concerns have been raised.

While greatly concerning, most cases of dental fluorosis in children are mild and treatable and do not pose long term problems to dental or other health. Still, elevated levels of fluoride in water should be identified and mitigated as much as possible to prevent damage to teeth and bones. And ongoing testing for other health issues associated with fluoride consumption in drinking water must inform our future use of fluoride in water.

However, at appropriate levels, fluoride does seem to be safe for the vast majority of people and it has been shown over numerous decades to promote stronger enamel production in teeth. This has in turn prevented a lot of serious dental and gum problems for children and adults, allowing people to better maintain dental health well into their later years. Therefore, given the fact that fluoride is beneficial to dental health we must return to the question at hand, how much fluoride in water is safe?

How Much Fluoride in Your Water is Safe?

Even after almost eight decades of research and discovery many people still wonder, how much fluoride in water is safe? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined a recommended national level of 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of fluoride in drinking water. However, the current enforceable maximum fluoride level is 4.0 mg/L. This is also known as the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for fluoride in drinking water and should not be exceeded by any public water system. For those who get their drinking water from wells or private sources it is highly recommended that testing of drinking water is done regularly to conform to these health standards.

Some people also wonder how much fluoride is in bottled and purified water? The answer varies across different waters, but in general, since there is no fluoride added to bottled water, the levels in bottled water are very low. The average is 0.11 parts per million (ppm) which is far below the recommended levels for dental health. This has led researchers to wonder if the rise in bottled water consumption could explain a rise in tooth decay among young children in recent years.

How to Test for Fluoride in Drinking Water

Learning information like this inevitably causes you to wonder how to test your water for fluoride. There are a couple of avenues for how to test fluoride levels in water. The least expensive and quickest way is to purchase an at home testing kit and follow the directions on the box to determine how much fluoride is in your water. These kits can be purchased from testing laboratories or other places and will give you a good idea of whether your fluoride levels fall in the appropriate range for optimum dental health or not.

The second avenue for how to test your water for fluoride is contacting a local environmental testing laboratory and letting them know what kind of drinking water you get in your home (municipal, city, well, or other). They will not only help you determine your fluoride levels, but will also be able to test for a wide range of potential contaminants in your water that could be harmful. Getting a thorough water test will give you peace of mind if it comes back clear or will help you work to ensure safe drinking water for the future by working to mitigate any problems.

Although these tests are more costly up front they can be extremely helpful for the long term health and safety of your and your family. Most labs have test groupings that test for several common contaminants and are priced reasonably and packaged for your area.


Torrent Laboratory has been a leader in environmental and drinking water testing for nearly three decades. They have these three recommendations about water quality testing:

  • Do not take for granted the quality of your drinking water.
  • Be aware of any changes to the appearance, smell or taste of your drinking water that may impact its quality.
  • Have a commercial Laboratory quality test your drinking water periodically to ensure its quality.
  • Invest in your family’s well being by Investigating any changes in your drinking water quality.

Torrent Laboratory, Inc., is a state of California certified (CAL ELAP) Laboratory. Torrent Laboratory employs EPA approved testing procedures (Test Methods) and services that meet all quality control analytical and documentation requirements demanded by California regulating authorities.

Torrent’s chemists have a combined 150 years of analytical expertise in knowing exactly how to serve you! All final reports contain an additional attachment that includes the Federal Guidelines so that you can compare your water quality data. If you have additional questions or concerns. Send us an email at and we’ll be happy to discuss your report with you.

We know you have the option of using cheap pre-packaged test kits for water testing; however, they usually cannot detect in the part per billion and part per trillion range. Additionally, although they know how to test fluoride levels in water, most prepackaged test kits are useless when it comes to comprehensive water quality testing! Municipality-delivered tap water, bottled water, home-filtered water, and well water all have unique characteristics that pre-packaged kits do not necessarily address or check. Torrent understands all of our client’s situations are unique, which is why we spend time with you up-front to discover what are your health and family concerns.