To use Fluoride or not to use Fluoride? That is the question. There have been many heated debates about this topic for decades.
I believe Fluoride is a personal choice, and this is why it is the other F word. There are numerous opinions on this subject.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally and is released from rocks into the soil, water, plants, and air.
Almost all water contains some fluoride, but usually not enough to prevent tooth decay.
Why is Fluoride added to the water?
Fluoride has been added to drinking water supplies as a public health measure for reducing cavities. Decisions about adding fluoride to drinking water are made at the state or local level.
Fluoride has been an effective way to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride’s action in preventing tooth decay benefits both children and adults throughout their lives.
I grew up with well water and have worked in communities that do not have Fluoride in the water supply. I have seen first-hand kids in communities without fluoride kids do tend to have more cavities than kids with fluoride in the water supply.
Common sources of Fluoride
The primary sources for fluoride intake include drinking water in fluoridated communities, toothpaste (if swallowed), beverages like tea and food processed with fluoridated water, dietary prescription supplements (e.g., tablets or drops), and other professional dental products (e.g., mouth rinses, gels, and foams).
Why use Fluoride?
The health benefits we have seen from fluoride are:
- Fewer and less severe cavities
- Less need for fillings and tooth extractions
- Less pain and suffering associated with tooth decay
Fluoride is beneficial to teeth because it helps to:
- rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel
- slow down the loss of minerals from tooth enamel
- reverse early signs of tooth decay
- prevent the growth of harmful oral bacteria
Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and carbs, and they produce acids that break down and eat away at your tooth enamel. This loss of minerals on your tooth surface is called demineralization. Weakened tooth enamel leaves your teeth vulnerable to bacteria that cause cavities. Certain bacteria in the mouth cause tooth decay.
Fluoride helps to remineralize your tooth enamel, which can prevent cavities and reverse early signs of tooth decay and prevents cavities from forming. That being said there are other options of products you can use them to help mineralize the tooth surface that does not contain Fluoride.
Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process—it keeps tooth enamel strong and solid.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, the average number of missing or decaying teeth in 12-year-old children in the United States dropped by 68 percent from the late 1960s through the early 1990s. This followed the introduction to, and expansion of, fluoridated water in communities, and the addition of fluoride to toothpaste and other dental products.
If your city doesn’t fluoridate its water, but you’re interested in the dental health benefits of fluoride, try:
- brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- using a fluoride mouthwash once a day (not recommended for children under six years of age)
- asking your doctor or dentist about fluoride treatments and options
What is the right amount of Fluoride?
These are the ADA and CDC recommendations.
If your child is among the more than 200 million Americans who receive their water from a community water system fluoridated at the optimal level and if you follow instructions for your child’s tooth brushing, your child will receive the right amount of fluoride to prevent tooth decay.
Children should start using toothpaste with fluoride when they are two years old. For children younger than 2, consult first with your doctor or dentist regarding the use of fluoride toothpaste. CDC recommends that children under six use a small, pea-sized amount of toothpaste, spit out the excess paste, and rinse thoroughly after brushing
Is Fluoride Harmful or Helpful?
Researchers from around the world have conducted hundreds of studies that look at the safety of adding low concentrations of fluoride to drinking water. There’s no evidence that fluoride added to local water supplies in the United States causes any health problems, aside from the occasional mild case of dental fluorosis.
However, some people claim that fluoridated water causes a variety of health problems, including:
- low IQ scores in children
- bone cancer
- kidney disease
The research behind these claims is mixed. For example, a 2006 study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16596294
found that childhood exposure to fluoridated water was linked to higher rates of bone cancer in males. However, two studies one in 2011 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3173011/
and in another in 2016 didn’t find any connection between the two.
Studies looking at the link between fluoride and low IQ scores in children also have mixed results. The NCBI research concluded that there might be a link between the two, but noted that more substantial, high-quality studies are needed.
If you’re concerned about your fluoride intake, you can reduce your exposure by:
- finding alternative sources of drinking water, such as bottled water
- using a fluoride filter, for tap water
- choosing fluoride-free toothpaste
What happens when all of your efforts at home are not enough, and when you do go to the dentist, they say the words you do not want to hear…. you have a cavity. Or even worse, you have several cavities.
You are thinking… how is that possible? I brush every day.
If you are a parent, your child may have a lack of motivation to brush their teeth, or you cannot get in their mouth to brush. Maybe you did not have good habits as a child. So, you did not pass on proper oral hygiene habits.
I believe toothbrushing and fluoride are tools you can use to prevent cavities. But cavities are a disease, and like any disease you need to get to the bottom of the cause, you need to be your health care advocate.
I will always maintain this is a personal choice, one that depends on your particular set of beliefs and circumstances; there is no one right answer.
Oral home care and regular dental visits are essential for keeping your teeth for your lifetime. Mi paste shown in the picture of this blog has both a with and without fluoride option. You do not want to use this product if you or a family member using it has a milk allergy.
Asking questions and educating yourself is the best medicine in any situation. To fluoride or not to fluoride, that is the question? It is not for everyone. On this subject, I say follow your beliefs. We all have different experiences that give us our opinions on life. So do what is right for you and your family. If you can control the pH, you may not need Fluoride.
Always Always follow your gut instincts! They will not lead you astray if you truly listen.