Supporters of fluoride say that it helps prevent tooth decay by rebuilding your tooth enamel. The new enamel is harder and more resistant to tooth decay than your original tooth enamel. It also makes it more difficult for plaque to attach to your teeth. WebMD.com also says that fluoride promotes new bone formation so it is helpful for patients with osteoporosis. Studies are also being done to see if fluoride treatment helps with rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Many sources of good scientific evidence and reliable studies exist to show that fluoride helps in these ways.
Opponents of fluoride link it to many medical diseases though few reliable studies seem to exist to support this link. There are a few known problems resulting from fluoride. Fluorosis is one: when high amounts of fluoride are swallowed while teeth are forming, the teeth can become discolored. High doses of fluoride are known to cause weakened bones and ligaments, muscle weakness and nervous system problems. However, to get these high doses of fluoride and adult would have to drink 5,000 glasses of water or more at one sitting!
There are different types of fluoride. Calcium fluoride is the natural type of fluoride that is present in many natural foods. Other types of fluoride (such as hydrofluoric acid) result from manufacturing processes.
Fluoride is added to drinking water in very low concentrations in many communities. Bottled water usually does not contain fluoride, and many home water treatments remove fluoride from the water also. WebMD lists safe daily levels of fluoride as the following:
- 0.7 mg from birth to 6 months
- 0.9 mg from 6 months to 12 months
- 1.3 mg from 1 year to 3 years
- 2.2 mg from 4 years to 8 years
- 10 mg for 9 years and up (including adults and pregnant or breast-feeding women)
Fluoride is also added to many toothpastes and some mouthwashes. There are topical (surface) fluorides that you can apply to your teeth at home (either with a toothbrush or in a special tray) if you are at higher risk for cavities. Your dentist may also apply fluoride to your teeth at your dental visit if you are at higher risk for dental cavities.
Learn the facts about fluoride—find a non-biased source that presents both sides of the issue. Also learn how to evaluate scientific studies and evidence. Read the original studies and evaluate the results for yourself rather than reading someone else’s interpretation of them. Discuss the concerns you have about fluoride with your dentist or physician. Each person is unique and your dentist and physician can help determine what is best for your dental and medical health.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who is accepting new patients of all ages at her office located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH. Call 440-960-1940 to join our team! You can also find more information at www.drjrobb.com or www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb