Fluoridated water is one of the more polarizing subjects in the realm of oral care. It has profound hygienic benefits but it is technically a toxin. Considering we’re exposed to small doses every day over our lifetime, some very legitimate concerns arise about its impact. We believe knowledge is power, so we wanted to put together a list of facts and myths so you can make educated decisions.
MYTH: Fluoridated Water Leads To Tooth Decay
Studies show that people who drink fluoridated water have greater reductions in tooth decay. The original reason for adding fluoride to water and dental products was for public health. In addition to drinking water, there is fluoride in many different kinds of popular toothpaste and rinses.
MYTH: Fluoride Is Not Found Naturally In Water.
Fluoride is a natural mineral derived from the earth and dispersed all around us. Its presence in natural water sources varies widely. For example, The Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors Fact Sheet on Natural Fluoride in Drinking Water states, “Fluoride in ocean water (96.5 percent of Earth’s water) is typically in the range of 1.2 to 1.4 ppm.”
MYTH: There Is Too Much Fluoride In Our Drinking Water.
According to an article published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “Toxic dose of fluoride (for children & adults) [is] 5 mg F/kg body weight”. The fluoride in drinking water is closely monitored. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found the suggested amount for fluoride in drinking water to be at 0.7 milligrams per liter. The CDC keeps the fluoride levels for most counties all over the United States public. Right now in Hennepin County, Minnesota, the levels are exactly 0.7 milligrams per liter.
MYTH: Private Drinking Labels Have More Fluoride
According to the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors, studies show that only 1% of private drinking water contains excess fluoride levels. Be mindful of the levels in well water or private drinking water. This water is only found in small connections and it is the responsibility of the owner of the well to initiate and maintain regulations for their water.
Concerns and Considerations
Fluoride is a toxin. Long-term exposure to elevated levels of fluoride can cause wearing of the enamel, which has the potential for causing something called dental fluorosis that breeds discoloration, white specs, or streaks. Fluoride can also cause something else called skeletal fluorosis which means that bones harden and lose elasticity, making a person more prone to breaks and joint problems. In extreme cases, fluoride can be known to cause thyroid problems, acne problems, cardiovascular problems, infertility, and neurological problems in babies and children. Extreme levels of fluoride ingestion can be lethal. It is important to note that these scenarios are very rare and extreme.
Benefits and Management
When fluoride is ingested, it strengthens our bones and through this restores minerals into our teeth, creating harder enamel that acts as a barrier between the plaque and sugars that can cause decay.
Other Fluoridated Products and Procedures
Whether most of your intake is from drinking water or dental hygiene products, you may be wondering when it is necessary for additional fluoride to be added to your routine or dental visits. Often, dentists may recommend fluoride treatments for someone who is at high risk for cavities or tooth decay. These treatments include a concentrated rinse, foam or gel trays, or as a varnish application. All of these options contain a much higher dosage of fluoride than is found in water or store-bought fluoride toothpaste and rinses, so a professional dentistry team must manage these procedures.
If you have questions or concerns about the incorporation of fluoride in your or your family’s oral health routines, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help.