Is Fluoride Bad For You?
Fluoride is known for its amazing ability to fight tooth decay but it is also connected with a range of diseases including heart disease, allergies, and genetic abnormalities. Since the late 1990’s the FDA has required companies that produce oral products with fluoride as an ingredient to place a warning label on their fluorinated products. It is logical to assume that the FDA would not require such a measure if there was little to no evidence to support it. The results of fluoride studies and trials have resulted in fluoride being deemed both good and bad, which only leads to more confusion regarding the topic. This article is here to summarize the findings in a concise manner to help you understand the positives and negatives of fluoride. Before diving in, one should become aware that the average person is exposed to fluoride on a daily basis. Not only from fluorinated toothpastes but also from their drinking water. Most communities add fluoride to the water system, however a growing number of communities have decided to stop this practice for various reasons.
Fluoride Prevents Tooth Decay
The main benefit of fluoride is its ability to fight tooth decay and ultimately strengthen your teeth. Children and adults alike can fight tooth decay by brushing their teeth with toothpastes that have fluoride in them. By brushing your teeth with fluorinated toothpastes, the fluoride settles in your saliva and improves your body’s ability to rebuild tooth enamel that has been damaged by acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. Fluoride also makes it more difficult for harmful plaque to stick to your teeth as well as helps prevent bacteria from turning sugar into damaging acids.
Fluoride Can Be Lethal
You may have heard that fluoride is fatal. While this is actually true, the amount of fluoride needed to be consumed in order to result in death is fundamentally impossible. A typical adult would have to consume over 5,000 glasses of fluorinated drinking water in one sitting to begin to reach dangerous fluoride levels. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that fluoride can be toxic because its cavity fighting abilities reveals that it is essentially a chemical.
Children And Fluoride Toxicity
It is common for children to constantly be reminded to now swallow fluorinated toothpastes or mouth rinses, and it is with good reason. Children can develop fluoride toxicity much easier than adults. Ingesting fluoride by children can result in the discoloring of the enamel on their developing teeth, called fluorosis. While it is also not smart for adults to swallow fluoride toothpastes or mouth rinses, the developed adult body is much better at removing harmful toxins from the body compared to a growing child.
Just like with anything, there are people that are allergic to fluoride. And just like with common allergies, the allergy side effects cease when the person is not exposed to the allergen. For people who are allergic to fluoride, it is highly recommended that they brush their teeth with fluoride-free toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Fluoride Causing Heart Disease And Genetic Abnormalities
While researching the topic of fluoride, several studies and trials stood out that stated that fluoride has been associated with a wide range of diseases including heart disease and genetic abnormalities. While there have been studies done on fluoride and genetic abnormalities, there was some substance in regards to the claims made about fluoride and heart diseases. A study in China on children and a study in the United States on animals showed that test subjects with fluorosis, which is the discoloring of tooth enamel as a result of heavy ingestion of fluoride leading to fluoride toxicity, often had lower IQ scores. These studied concluded that fluoride accumulates in the part of the brain that affects one’s ability to learn. These are the only two studied regarding this specific topic, so the conclusions aren’t 100% confirmed but it does make one think and hope that new studies will be completed soon to confirm or deny this major claim.
Just like with nearly everything, fluoride is most effective when consumed in moderation. The easiest ways to consume fluoride is by drinking fluorinated drinking water (most tap water has fluoride in it) or by brushing your teeth with fluorinated toothpastes. For the average person, these two methods provide an adequate amount of fluoride to keep your teeth healthy. Some additional ways to increase your fluoride intake is by purchasing fluorinated mouth rinses, oral supplements, or fluoride gels and varnishes that are applied by your dentists. All the negative side effects mentioned in this article are a result of heavy fluoride ingestion. Overall, fluoride is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it has often been hailed as one the ten greatest accomplishments by the 20th century public health system. Brush on!