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Fluoride: Facts, Benefits, Sources, And Safety | Hawaii Family Dental

Written by Danica Lacson on September 29, 2018

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring compound which is abundant in nature. It was named as nature's cavity and is highly endorsed by health agencies including the World Health Organization, American Dental Association, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as a major compound used for teeth protection.

Ten facts about Fluoride

Fact #1: Fluoride naturally occurs in water.

Fluoride is present in water and when adjusted to optimal level, will protect and whiten teeth. The recommended amount of fluoride in water is 0.7 parts per million.

Fact #2: Fluoridation can be practiced by anyone.

The United States was the first country to do water fluoridation. They consider it as one of the “top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.” Few other countries do the same. However, other developed countries like Europe instead add fluoride to products such as salt and milk

Fact #3: Tooth decay cases are not dependent on whether or not the country fluoridates.

In the United States, the decrease in the number of people who suffer from tooth decay is being attributed to water fluoridation. However, the same decrease has happened in several other countries that do not fluoridate their water.

Fact #4: Many tissues in the body, not just the teeth, are affected by fluoride.

It also affects your bones, thyroid gland, pineal gland, blood sugar levels, and your brain. Too much fluoride is associated with several health conditions such as:

  • Brain damage
  • Bone disorders
  • Thyroid disease
  • Dementia
  • Low intelligence/IQ
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperactivity or lethargy
  • Muscle disorders
  • Bone cancer
  • Increased lead absorption
  • Thyroid disease arthritis
  • Bone fractures
  • Lowered thyroid function
  • Disrupted immune system
  • Damaged sperm or increased infertility
  • Increased tumor and cancer rate

Fact #5: Water fluoridation is a natural series of chemical operations.

Fluorosilicic acid, the compound used to add fluoride to water in the USA, is not what most people would consider natural. It’s a biting acid caught in devices that control air pollution. It is being captured because the gases are very harmful air pollutants, and it can cause severe environmental harm. This is risky and could even lead to cancer.

Fact #6: Fluoride exposure is important for infants and children according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

When used to prevent and control cavities, it can be very safe and effective. Just be cautious about overexposure, which can cause dental fluorosis – They are also at a very high risk for brain damage due to fluoride toxicity.

Fact #7: The FDA did not approve fluoride supplements.

Most vitamin supplements can be bought over the counter, but this is not the same case with fluoride supplements (for prevention of tooth decay), as it can only be bought with a doctor’s prescription.

Fact #8: It’s the only medicine added to public water.

Fluoride is only considered an approved medicine by FDA standards when it’s added to water to prevent tooth decay.

Fact #9: Teeth are not expected to benefit as much when fluoride is swallowed.

Research shows that it is most beneficial when used in direct contact with teeth, compared to direct ingestion through drinking water or taking pills.

Fact #10: Fluoride mostly damages underdeveloped countries.

This happens because underdeveloped countries have less dental practitioners who can give them optimal dental care. They only rely on the fluoride found in water, which has harmful effects in the long run.

What are the benefits of Fluoride?

Fluoride is beneficial for all age groups. Among its benefits include:

  • Increases the resistance of enamel to dental caries
  • Assists young, developing secondary teeth
  • Minimize the amount of acid which the bacteria present on the teeth produce
  • Promotes “remineralization" and facilitates entry into the structure of calcium and phosphate ions. This is because the fluoride is negatively charged and attracts the calcium and phosphate with a positive charge.
  • It has an antibacterial action that attacks the bacteria that colonizes the tooth surface.
  • It helps where there is a deficit; with calcium and Vitamin D. It helps treat osteoporosis and solidifies bones.
  • In case a person requires special oral care, fluoride treatments are even more valuable. Any person who wears braces must also receive fluoride treatments constantly in order to impede bacteria from getting stuck beneath the wires.

Where can I get Fluoride?

Fluoride is abundant in nature especially in food and water. The most water supplies in the United States have added fluoride which is in safe amount and in accordance with the state's rules and regulations.

What is Fluoridated Water?

Fluoridated water is a water which underwent the process of water fluoridation wherein controlled amount of fluoride is added at a level that is believed to be effective in the prevention of cavities.

History Of Fluoridated Water

In the 1940s, scientists have found out that people living in areas where drinking water had naturally-occurring fluoride had lower incidents of dental caries.

By 1945, water fluoridation in the US began with Grand Rapids, Michigan adjusting the fluoride content of its water supply to 1.0 ppm. The city became the first place in the country to implement community water fluoridation.

By 2014, over 66 percent of the country’s total population are receiving fluoridated water.

Safety And Recommended Level Of Fluoride

According to ADA President Dr. Maxine Feinberg, water fluoridation is effective and safe, and its effect has been validated by tens of millions of people since Grand Rapids’ water fluoridation.

The National Cancer Institute has also dismissed claims that fluoridated water can cause cancer as no evidence was found of the association between fluoride in water and cancer in humans.

The US Department of Health and Human Services set the recommended level of fluoride to 0.7 mg/L.

Benefits Of Fluoridated Water

Drinking fluoridated water is beneficial as it reduces dental costs caused by tooth decays, lessens the percentage of dental caries from 20 to 40 percent, prevents tooth loss and infection, and improves oral health.

Among the 66 percent who receive fluoridated water, 74 percent benefits from community water fluoridation.

Community water fluoridation is valuable because it promotes health for its members, and cost-effective and equitable. ADA has urged communities to continue fluoridating water at recommended levels because this method is one of the most effective and least costly.

Still,  fluoride treatments are available in various types which you can use to add protection and strengthen your teeth. Fluoride treatments come in the form of toothpaste, gels, varnish, and mouthwash.

Toothpaste

Toothpaste usually contains fluoride. Yet, toothpaste has a lower amount of fluoride compared to the level prescribed by dentists.

Fluoride Gel

Fluoride gels are also accessible over-the-counter, and a higher dose of the gels may be acquired with your dentist’s prescription. Fluoride gels have the same consistency as toothpaste and some are available for home applications. This type of fluoride treatment uses a tray and is applied with a mouth guard.

Those who have high risks of tooth decay and those undergoing head and neck radiations are prescribed with fluoride gels. It is also suggested if you have decreased salivary flow or those with permanent molars.

Mouthwash

Mouthwash contains fluoride to help strengthen your teeth and avoid tooth decay. It also has antibacterial components to fight off bacteria caused by plaque formation. It also reduces bad mouth odor.

Varnish

Another type of treatment available is fluoride varnish which is applied manually and brushed on teeth. After application, eating and drinking must be avoided for 30 minutes. You can always inquire with your dentist for the treatment suited to your needs.

Is Fluoride Safe?

Several reports have been circulated all through the globe about fluoride. In point of fact, after long years of careful research, the scientific conclusion is that properly fluoridated water and fluoride-based toothpaste, milk, and salt are of superior benefit to one’s dental health.

This aids minimize dental caries and cause no dangerous adverse effects on a person’s overall wellness. Research has not unveiled any proof that fluoride added to water causes no detrimental adverse effects.

On the other hand, those people who are opposed to fluoridation claim that fluoride added to water is definitely damaging. However, in the correct amounts and used adequately, fluoride is 100% safe.

Fluorosis

Fluorosis is caused by excessive and prolonged intake of fluorine and produces bone and dental anomalies. In addition, keep in mind the below:

  • There may be an acute poisoning by accidental ingestion of insecticides or rodenticides with fluoride salts that can cause death.
  • Excess fluoride intake is toxic and can cause fluorosis as it weakens the enamel (causing more caries) and weakens our bones (more decalcification and osteoporosis).
  • Too much fluoride can discolor or stain your teeth forever.
  • Fluorosis, especially between a year and a half and 3 years old. At this age, children do not fully understand the act of brushing teeth and spit, usually, the child swallows the mixture increasing daily doses of fluoride for their age.

Optimal levels of fluoride in water are one part per million (1 ppm), equivalent to one milligram of fluoride ion in 1 liter of water. This measure is controversial and it is not accepted in all countries. Try not to exceed the recommended amount.


Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.

References: 

  • https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/myths/fluoridated-water-fact-sheet
  • https://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/index.html
  • https://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoride-and-fluoridation
  • https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/nutrition/food-tips/water-best-beverage
  • https://dentistry.uic.edu/patients/drink-more-water
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