You likely know that mercury, lead, and other heavy metals are not great for the body and can cause a host of issues. But whether or not fluoride is safe (or effective) is more controversial.
Is Fluoride Beneficial?
In the early part of the twentieth century, it was discovered that small communities who had higher levels of naturally occurring fluoride in their drinking water had fewer dental caries (cavities). Naturally fluoridated water at about 1mg/L seemed to be beneficial to dental health. (Fluoride that is naturally occurring is calcium fluoride.)
Unfortunately, the fluoride that is often added to water supplies in the U.S. is hydrofluoric acid (an industrial by-product), not elemental fluorine or calcium fluoride. It’s well known that naturally occurring substances (even heavy metals) are generally better tolerated by the body than synthetic counterparts.
But because early studies showed few dental caries in communities using fluoridated water, fluoridated water became known as one of 10 best public health achievements of the twentieth century according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).