The controversy over community fluoridation and the uses of fluoride for the prevention of dental disease can be confusing and frustrating. There are some nay sayers out there who don’t believe fluoride is beneficial to our dental health while the dental community sees its positive effects.
The truth is fluoride occurs naturally in the earth’s crust with other minerals. Small amounts of fluoride naturally occur in all bodies of water. We ingest it in foods such as tea, chicken skin and fish and fluoride is a component of most toothpastes and some mouth rinses. As consumers, it is important to know how fluoride can affect your health both negatively and positively.
Exposure or ingesting large amounts of fluoride can be harmful and is considered toxic. Dental fluorosis is a common example of this. Too much fluoride intake while the teeth are forming can result in mottled, stained and pitted looking teeth. People can suffer skeletal deformities or worse if consuming 30 times or more the recommended dose according to studies done on vermin.
The fact is, the likeness of this ever happening is slim to none unless volunteering for lab testing. Children under 10 are the only real candidates for developing fluorosis because they like eating toothpaste or are too young to spit while and after brushing. By monitoring young kids until they are comfortable expectorating toothpaste and mouthrinse trouble can be averted. For children who like to eat toothpaste, unflurodiated toothpaste should be used until a bit more mature.
Everyone needs a minimum amount of fluoride intake to prevent bone loss, cavities and other biological problems. Several medicines contain fluoride and are used to treat skin diseases and some cancers. According to the American Dental Association and Center for Disease Control, fluoride prevents tooth decay safely and effectively. This is supported by federal regulations, comprehensive reviews and individual studies.
Under the Safe Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set enforceable drinking water standards for fluoride. This ensures safety upon consumption. Water supplies that are below the optimum fluoride level are recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service to adjust to an optimum level range from 0.7 – 1.2 parts per million. With over 60 years of scientific literature and results, this is a concentration sufficient to protect against tooth decay a very serious dental disease.
Other ways we can get exposure to fluoride is through professionally applied topical fluoride gel, foam and varnish which are incredibly helpful for cavity prevention and dental sensitivity. Applying these products during routine dental cleanings is a great way to ensure teeth are extracting the nutrients they need to stay strong. Please note, products that have been labeled with an ADA Seal of Approval, have met criteria ensuring safety and effectiveness.
In conclusion, fluoride is not a mineral we want to dismiss from our list of beneficial resources. Do we want to eat 30 times the recommended dosage, probably not. That being said, nay sayers have justifiable concerns with the pseudo data/science that is out there. But like too much salt or sugar in our diets, moderation is the key, not elimination.
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