Fluoride presents different challenges around the world.
In the United States, the questions about fluoride generally center around the safety of adding fluoride to water. Globally, the debate about fluoride often must focus on how to remove high levels of naturally-occurring fluoride from a drinking supply.
As we saw in an earlier section, it's excessive fluoride that often can lead to debilitating skeletal fluorosis in certain regions of the world. Fluoride belts--those regions with high levels of natural fluoride--are often found at the foot of high mountains, or where the sea makes mineral deposits. The World Health Organization acknowledges the larger risks of over-fluoridation and skeletal fluorosis on populations, and focuses its efforts on controlling excessive fluoride in water sanitation and safety programs.
Over half the United States adds fluoride to their water supplies to reach an optimal level. New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland (and ten percent of the water supply in Britain) is fluoridated. Most European nations do not fluoridate water, along with Japan and China, among others. However, don't assume that they're anti-fluoride; several countries add fluoride to their table salt (much like you can buy iodized salt in the United States), or even add fluoride to milk.
So adding fluoride to water is by no means globally accepted. But if you're entirely certain that fluoride should be dumped into drinking water with pleasure, read on -- because even the United States government recently had a change of heart about their long-established fluoride stance.