The lure of having strong, healthy teeth is a strong one, so much so that the induction of fluoride into municipal water sources began in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945. It was, however, nearly 40 years prior to that that research on the potential benefits of fluoride began, and the studies were overwhelmingly conclusive with evidence to support that fluoride, when diluted to the proper level, not only strengthened the enamel of teeth but also actively prevented tooth decay.
Today, fluoride is found not only in non-well based water sources but also in just about every available commercially made toothpaste. Not everyone, however, is convinced of the beneficial effects of fluoride, and new studies continue to cast a shadow over this so very widely used chemical.
The potential risks and benefits of using fluoride, not only in our drinking water but also as an active ingredient in fighting tooth decay, should be weighed carefully.
Benefits of Fluoride
According to the American Dental Association, community fluoridation of water sources is the most effective measure in preventing tooth decay. This claim is backed by a revelation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that water fluoridation is one of the top public health accomplishments of the 20th century.
By adjusting the level of fluoride levels in community water supplies to an optimal level, as recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service, tooth decay can be actively prevented in both children and adults. This claim is backed by more than 65 years of studies that show that fluoride, when in proper levels, have absolutely no adverse affects and nothing but benefits.
The ADA also claims that water fluoridation still continues to reduce tooth decay by 20 to 40 percent, even with the use of fluorinated toothpaste and other fluorinated oral products.
Risks of Fluoride
Despite the ADA’s stance favoring the use of fluoridation, there are many studies, some recent, revealing potentially harmful effects of fluoride including cancers, an increase in hip and other fractures and an increased rate of dental fluorosis.
Dental fluorosis occurs when excessive amounts of fluoride are ingested during a child’s early years as the teeth are developing. The result is damage to the tooth’s enamel which can range from visible discoloration to causing pitting on the surface of the tooth which can lead to tooth decay. Some have even argued that if fluoride can harm the enamel of a tooth, what is it doing to other, unseen, parts of the body?
In addition to fluoride’s suspected adverse affects on bone density and as a cancer causing agent, there is suspicion that fluoride can impair brain development, and many studies are being conducted to find the link between the two. The thought is that fluoride can cross the placenta barrier and begin to have an affect on a developing fetus’ brain as it is developing.
The Bottom Line
Considered by many to be a modern health miracle and by others a privileged pollutant, the debate over the pros and cons of fluoridation continue. Whether you believe that ingesting fluoride is better than topical use (as in toothpaste), as long as you drink city water and brush your teeth you are getting perhaps more fluoride than was ever originally intended. More study is required to prove either ill or beneficial results of fluoride use, and until that time consumer awareness is key to urging the medical community to do so.

Related Posts