Dental Dangers

Poison or Prevention Fluoride

The controversy over community fluoridation and the uses of fluoride for the prevention of dental disease can be confusing and frustrating. The dental hygienist and dentist support the use of fluoride and yet some researchers condemn it. Is fluoridation of our water an unethical government issued medicine or is it one of the10 great public health achievements of the 20th century?

The truth is fluoride occurs naturally in the earths 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 systemic fluoride while the teeth are forming can result in mottled, stained and pitted looking teeth. By monitoring children and their use of fluoride while teeth are developing this can be avoided. Kids under 10 may have a tendency to eat toothpaste amongst other things.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, although extremely rare, skeletal fluorosis, joint pain, and sickness can also occur as a result of too much fluoride. These ailments were discovered in people who received 30 times the amount of fluoride exposure found in fluoridated water.

On the flip side, everyone needs a minimum amount of fluoride intake to prevent bone loss. 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.

Professionally applied topical fluoride including gel, foam and varnish and fluoridated toothpaste should be used for cavity prevention according to the American Dental Association. They are also helpful for reducing the sensitivity or preventing hypersensitivity of teeth. If products have been labeled with an ADA Seal of Approval, they have met criteria ensuring safety and effectiveness.

In conclusion, dental professionals aren’t misinformed or out to do harm. There are many variables involved when looking at how fluoride affects a community. Diet, air quality, resources, climate conditions, economics, availability of healthcare, etc . . . Any one of these variables can alter the benefits or consequences of fluoride use. That being said, the nay sayers have justifiable concerns. Its scary watching what happens when you force feed or expose poor little test animals to ridiculously inhumane massive amounts of fluoride. Lucky for us, most of us live in areas where an excess of fluoride exposure isn’t a factor. Instead we have the luxury of using one of nature’s gifts as a tool for cavity prevention.

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