The F* word
The F word in the crunchy community is Fluoride, but why? Even though fluoride is a naturally occurring substance, there is a current war against it. To understand the heated debate, first we must understand its historical importance. Fluoride comes from the most electro-negative and explosive element, fluorine. Even though, fluorine itself is dangerous, the compound fluoride is quite stable and useful.
A young dentist in the early 1900’s made a scientific breakthrough. He found that natural water deposits of fluoride caused stronger, cavity free teeth. Having cavity free teeth is good. So the government added it to the public water system. Water fluoridation is important for two reasons. First, it decreased the amount of cavities. Secondly, the use of fluoride showed cavities are preventable. A huge thank-you is due to those scientific pioneers who uncovered the anti-cavity properties of this chemical.
Fluoride is everywhere
In time though, fluoride found itself added to a lot of products. These sources include over the counter dental toothpaste, floss, mouth rinse, in office dental products, pesticides that we use in farming and in food packaging. American citizens worried they were ingesting fluoride from too many sources. Since we are in the age of information technology, regular people can research if certain chemicals are bad. Americans do not have to ask specialist for their knowledge, instead they can look it up. The information found on the internet about fluoride is concerning for some people.
Fluoride is toxic
It has always been know too much fluoride can cause bad effects on the teeth. Brown or white stains, caused by too much fluoride, is how that young dentist discovered the chemical. People with brown stains had no cavities but had ugly teeth. These stains show that too much of the chemical was ingested in childhood. The stains on the teeth is a clue that fluoride can be toxic. Teeth are made of the same ingredient bones are made of. If too much fluoride causes brown stains what does it do to the bones in the body? Evidence shows that there are even more illness caused by fluoride poisoning. Fluoride toxicity can cause brain, digestive, joint and bone disease. The problem is not if fluoride is poisonous, but at what level is it poisonous?
Who is tracking total fluoride consumption?
Our US government has set forth rules for public water fluoride concentrations. Other government groups have set forth rules on the concentration of fluoride in products we use in our mouth. But, there is no one agency that is tracking the total amount of fluoride each person gets from water and other sources. Should each person keep a log of the products they use that have fluoride? No, people already have a ton of responsibility. There must be a better answer? A better option, is to use another product that strengthens our teeth and prevents cavities but cannot hurt us.
Great news great alternatives
The great news is that we have dental products that are substitutes for fluoride. Other options include xylitol, MI paste, mouth rinse and tooth paste without fluoride. By using alternatives in the world of dentistry, we will decreased the total amount of fluoride we take into our bodies. This is good, so we can decrease the unwanted side effects of fluoride toxicity. Fluoride doesn’t have to be a bad word, instead let’s use fluoride when necessary.