The controversy over fluoride
September 18, 2009
The controversy over fluoride
Recently the demand for organic products
has dramatically increased. And with that increase comes a lot of negative response to chemicals found in many common products.
One such chemical is fluoride, which for years has been used for its benefits on oral health care. Roughly 2/3rds of the United States has the controlled addition of fluoride to its tap water for this exact reason. Fluoride is universally considered by dentists and health organizations to be beneficial to oral health care, and yet many consumers do not use it because of the many dangers it presents.
Opponents of fluoride point out that fluoride is poisonous when ingested in large amounts, potentially 5 mg of fluoride per kg of bodyweight. This is definitely something of concern. However, the amount of fluoride found in toothpaste, mouthwash, tap water, etc. is incredibly small.
To put it into perspective, a 2-year old would have to swallow around 40% of a 130-gram toothpaste
at once, and a 9 year old would have to swallow the whole tube. So for small children where the danger is most apparent, fluoride poisoning is very much rare.
The other main health condition associated with fluoride is dental fluorosis, which occurs when a young child receives too much fluoride during tooth development. Fluoride can create white spots on the teeth and in harsher cases can create brown stains and pitting of the enamel. Fluoride only affects the permanent teeth when they are in development under the gum line. Once a permanent tooth is complete and breaks through the gum line, it then benefits from the presence of fluoride. Thus, Dental fluorosis can only occur up to 8 years of age when the permanent teeth are still in development.
Many people feel that the fluoridation of tap water is a major contributing factor to dental fluorosis, and this is true in many ways. However, the effects more often than not turn out to be mild and not of any type of concern.
Fluoride has many beneficial aspects as well. It enhances tooth remineralization, which helps to prevent sensitivity and tooth decay, and actually makes the tooth enamel stronger than beforehand. It also stops oral bacteria from affectively creating acids that destroy the tooth. These are the reasons why it is recommended by dentists everywhere.
Fluoride is effective in every aspect of good oral hygiene. But still, some people prefer not to use it because of the negative effects mentioned above. There definitely are some antagonizing aspects that many would prefer to avoid.
There are many fluoride-free alternatives on the market today that do a fine job of preventing plaque and tooth decay. Some toothpastes use ingredients similar in function, like for instance the Dr.Collins Restore toothpaste
which utilizes NovaMin, a bioactive glass that promotes remineralization.
Everyone has a different need in their toothpaste, whether it be fluoride, a whitening toothpaste
, or toothpaste for sensitivity relief
, etc. And there will always be many choices out there to fill those needs. If you’re not sure about fluoride, or you feel you might need something else, your dentist will be able to make a recommendation based on your specific needs.