Fluoride, a chemical additive in public water supplies, has been reducing tooth decay and associated bad breath for decades in the U.S. Now the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have officially suggested that it only be added to drinking water at the minimum recommended level.
Fluoride can be found in drinking water, toothpastes and specialty breath freshening products. A small amount, between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams per liter of water, can prevent tooth decay by slowing the rate of enamel loss, the EPA said.
Now, the agency, along with the HHS, has set the acceptable level of drinking-water fluoride at the lowest formerly proposed level - 0.7 milligrams per liter. The change reflects the increasing amount of the chemical available through products, dental cleanings and tap water.
Fluoride relieves tooth decay, one of the causes of bad breath. However, when oral odor is an immediate problem, fluoridated water may do little to improve it. Brushing the teeth and rinsing with a specialty breath freshener are two potential ways to eliminate halitosis and leave the mouth feeling clean.