There are real benefits and risks to using fluoride, so in this article, we’ll try to separate the science from the myth and give you a real sense of what fluoride is and how it works.
Why Is There Fluoride in Drinking Water?
Fluoride occurs naturally in soil, water, and foods. In some places, however, there is less fluoride in the water than other places. Adding synthetic fluoride in the water has been shown to reduce the amount of tooth decay in local populations. For those who cannot afford the regular costs of dental work, fluoride provides one way to reduce the rate of tooth decay.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t risks with excessive intake of fluoride. There are. But there’s also a good reason why fluoride is added to tap water and why you’ll find it in so many toothpastes.
Risks of Fluoride
The overexposure of fluoride can lead to several problems. These include:
- Fluorosis – Fluorosis is a term for the overexposure to fluoride. In children, dental fluorosis may occur resulting in small discolorations to the enamel of the tooth. However, skeletal fluorosis can result in the bones becoming overly hardened. This can result in fractures and cause problems with joints.
- Thyroid problems – Excessive fluoride can damage the parathyroid resulting in hyperparathyroidism—a condition characterized by the overproduction of parathyroid hormones. This, in turn, results in depletion of calcium in bone and an increase of calcium in blood. Bones are more susceptible to breaks and fractures.
- Neurological problems – One study has shown that the higher the concentration of fluoride in prenatal infants, the greater the risk of cognitive problems. In 2014, fluoride was added to the list of neurotoxins that could be hazardous to childhood development.
The International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology lists a number of other problems that fluoride can cause, but there are fewer studies to back up these claims. These include:
- Acne and other skin problems,
- Cardiovascular problems including arterial calcification,
- Reproductive issues, and
- Neurological problems like ADHD.
What are the Benefits of Fluoride?
Fluoride has a number of benefits when it comes to teeth. It helps encourage the production of enamel which is the very hard substance on the outside of your teeth. It reduces tooth decay, protects against cavities, and is, by and large, safe and effective. The problem is the overexposure to fluoride.
For those who are concerned about the role fluoride is playing in their overall health, there are fluoride-free toothpastes and bottled water that does not have fluoride added to it. Pregnant women may want to reduce their fluoride intake. Children should not be given mouthwashes with fluoride in it before they’re six years of age, and parents should ensure that children brush properly and do not swallow the toothpaste.
Our Cottonwood Dentists Provide Exceptional Care to You and Your Children
If you have concerns about fluoride or wonder if you need to schedule a fluoride treatment, we are here to help. Like all things, fluoride is helpful in moderation and dangerous in excess. Peak Family Dental Care is always willing to answer any questions you have. Call us!