From a young age, we are told that it is important to get enough fluoride to strengthen our teeth and improve our health. Fluoride can be obtained from drinking water, and some children are even prescribed fluoride supplements to strengthen tooth enamel. However, the toxicity of fluoride has recently become a controversial topic.
Fluoride prevents tooth decay with no conclusive evidence of side effects. The amount of fluoride added to toothpastes and drinking water is strictly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Because of these regulations, no known cases of fluorosis, or excess fluoride, due to drinking water have been reported.
The main benefit of fluoride is its ability to harden teeth and minimize decay. Minerals, especially fluoride, are deposited to the enamel layer, providing resistance to acid and bacterial attacks. For children ages 6 and younger, the fluoride becomes a permanent part of the teeth, protecting the enamel layer as they get older.
Several countries, including Sweden, Norway, and Germany, have already banned fluoride supplements, claiming they are too dangerous. The biggest argument against fluoride is its potential to cause cancer and increase tumor growth. It is estimated that over 61,000 cancer deaths in the U.S. are due to fluoridation!
Studies have shown that despite popular belief, fluoride can actual corrode teeth, making them softer. Fluoride can also work as an enzyme inhibitor, limiting the ability of chemical reactions to take place in the body. This reduced enzyme function can weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to disease.
Although excess fluoride causes potentially fatal side effects, the benefit it provides to tooth enamel makes it an important mineral to consume. When taken at safe levels through toothpaste and drinking water, fluoride will strength teeth without corroding them.
It is important to determine the fluoride values of your toothpaste and drinking water to prevent excess fluoride consumption. Since proper fluoride intake varies by age and condition, it is advisable to reach out to your doctor or pharmacist, especially if you have children ages 6 and under.