Have you ever noticed that most toothpaste come with a health warning? That’s because they contain a toxin which, if taken in larger-than-necessary doses, can be harmful to health. So why doesn’t everyone switch to fluoride-free toothpaste? The argument is far from clear-cut, as you will discover.
Why Fluoride is Widely Used
Most dentists agree with federal government research, which shows that for most people the dangers of fluoride are far outweighed by the benefits. The exception to this rule is the 1% of the population who have a fluoride sensitivity which can cause lethargy or unpleasant flu-like side effects.
Many municipalities began adding fluoride to the drinking water supply in the 1960s to reduce tooth decay. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), research shows that fluoride reduces tooth decay by up to 70% in children, and reduces tooth loss by up to 60% in adults. Water fluoridation is considered one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century and today around 72% of Americans with mains water receive fluoride every time they turn on the tap.
Fluoride works by strengthening or remineralizing the tooth structure to resist decay. It also reduces the risk of cavities by inhibiting the bacteria in plaque which produce acid, causing tooth decay.
Fluoride-Free Toothpaste may Counter Fluorosis
In moderation, fluoride may be a huge benefit to dental health, but how much fluoride do you actually get every day? It depends on how much tap water you drink and what strength of fluoride is in your municipal tap water, which varies from 2-4 mg per liter. In addition, fluoride is naturally present in some water supplies, with as much as 1.2 grams per liter. Unless you use fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash, you are probably getting far more fluoride than the “safe” recommended amount.
Although fluoride is toxic, too much fluoride will not kill you, although it does cause fluorosis on the teeth. Excess fluoride creates white or brown spots on teeth which can look ugly and require dental procedures to remove them. Too much fluoride may also kill the flora and bacteria in the gut, weakening the immune system.
Some people continue to protest against water fluoridation, either because it overrides their right to choose, or because they believe fluoride may cause allergies and brittle bones, although as yet these theories appear to be unfounded.
According to recent studies, two in five adolescents receive too much fluoride, indicated by dental fluorosis. As a result of these findings, the Department of Health announced it would reduce the level of fluoride added to the water supply.If you live in an area with fluoridated tap water (and chances are that you do), then consider using fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash to reduce the possibility of consuming too much fluoride, which can cause as many dental problems as too little.