For decades it has been touted that the best way to insure strong teeth, is to add fluoride to the water. And the majority of clinical data has shown that statement to be true. There is really no argument against the effectiveness of fluoride in building strong teeth. The question at hand is and has been safety.
The EPA sets a maximum standard of 4 milligrams per liter, or 4 parts per million for the amount of fluoride that can be present in your water. As you read the EPA’s standard, you will notice they refer to it as contamination because fluoride is a highly toxic chemical.
Likewise, the report that was assembled by the Fairbanks Fluoride task force refers to the amount of fluoride being much less than that listed as acceptable by the EPA. Yet they still chose to remove fluoride from the water! This is due largely to their further research on the significance of toxicity that can be present in nursing mothers or infants beyond nursing. However, cumulative effect of fluoride is very difficult to determine in all populations, as they might receive multiple daily exposures.
Products like toothpaste and mouthwash, or chewing gum routinely have fluoride added to them. In addition, because it is a ground element, it is found in foods as well, at varying levels. The issue is that if you are having it unnaturally (municipal water, and dental products) as well as naturally (eating foods that are rich in fluoride), then it is likely that you will have a fluoride toxicity. Symptoms can mirror many other symptoms, unless they become severe from a massive one time ingestion (poison control needs to be called).
Other sources of fluoride include fluoride treatments at the dentist… which might have their place, however I would highly caution treating a child with a developing immune system, and with poor control over what is swallowed and what is spit, from having a fluoride treatment. I would further question treating a child with baby teeth with fluoride (this pro-fluoride site suggests treatment after primary teeth are all in).
“But Dr. Eric, my kid has a mouth full of cavities”. Again, as I say with everything else. It is your choice. My kid tends to be the only one out of 50, who walks out of her Church class every Sunday without taking the candy. Guess what, you just chose the path to cavity. If you want to give them a treat, give them something that has less potential of embedding sugar deep in the gums. Even ice cream will do better for tooth health than candy. If your child eats as they should, and it is your choice if they do or don’t until they are able to source their own food; they will not have a mouthful of cavities.
That being said… is their genetic pre-disposition? Yes. According to several published articles and this summary article, there is pre-disposition in genetics. However, also according to some genetic dental research, their just might be future generations at risk for more tooth decay, because of what your kids are eating now. It ramps that responsibility up a notch when you realize your grand-kids or perhaps great grand-kids will have a mouthful of cavities based upon the amount of sugar going into your children’s systems right now!
So the long and short of the whole article, is that Fairbanks Alaska found that their naturally occurring levels of fluoride were significant on their own (as is the case in most parts of the country) so that there was no need to be adding fluoride to the water. The risk of toxicity was greater than the benefit to teeth health according to their task force, and for that, I am grateful. It is an opportunity for more people to question fluoride, and move forward cautiously… and perhaps to never by Nestle fluoride enriched water again!
Be blessed, be well – Dr. E