For years, dental health professionals and organizations like the American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and World Health Organization have stated that the use of fluoride promotes good dental health and reduces tooth decay. While their stance on fluoride is well-known, not everyone feels that it is as good for you as many oral health professionals claim it is. In fact, sites like Fluoridealert.org state that fluoride is toxic and should not be used in the water supply or otherwise. However, reputable sources like the ADA and the CDC cite the over 70 years of research to support their stance.
What is fluoride?
According to Medical News Today, fluoride is a chemical ion of the element fluorine. This element is one of the most commonly occurring elements on the earth’s crust, and very small amounts of it are naturally found in the soil, water and food that we interact with every day. Fluoride is used in dental practices because it disrupts and blocks the acid created by bacteria that attacks teeth. For this reason, fluoride has been added to oral health products like toothpaste and American water supplies across the country for decades.
Since the 1940s most of the water supplies in the U.S. have had fluoride added to them. This was done after it was noticed that people in locations with higher natural fluoride levels in their water experienced lower levels of tooth decay. The ADA states there are 70 years of research backing up the benefits of water fluoridation, and the CDC listed water fluoridation as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. While the benefits of fluoride and water fluoridation are well-documented, it all revolves around having the optimal amount of fluoride in your system. It’s argued by Fluoridealert.org, NoFluoride.com and other websites and organizations that adding fluoride to the water is not the right way to get the optimal levels of fluoride. One of the issues they point to is dental fluorosis, a condition caused by getting too much fluoride.
According to the ADA, dental fluorosis is a condition marked by white spots or streaks on the teeth. It is purely a cosmetic issue, and has no affect on the overall health of the teeth. This develops when children have too much fluoride on a regular basis. Because their adult teeth are still developing, children can consume too much fluoride, which will have cosmetic affects on the teeth once they break through the gums. Once a child’s adult teeth break through the gums, they cannot be affected by dental fluorosis.
Getting the right amount of fluoride
If you have kids, talk with their dentist about maintaining the correct levels of fluoride. Your dentist will be able to help you ensure they don’t get too much fluoride and develop fluorosis. While organizations like the ADA and CDC state that everyone should use fluoride, many people feel that we get too much fluoride. If you do feel this way, consider switching to a toothpaste that doesn’t have fluoride in it. This will reduce the amount of fluoride you’re taking in. These toothpastes do just as good of job at cleaning your mouth and preventing bad breath.