Is fluoride bad? Well, fluoride is a chemical that is commonly added to toothpaste. It has a unique ability to prevent tooth decay.
It is for this reason that fluoride is widely added to the water supply to improve dental health.
However, many people are worried about the potential harm of excessive intake.
This article details what fluoride is all about and looks at how it can affect your health.
What is Fluoride?
It is widespread in nature where you can find it in small quantities. Fluoride occurs naturally in the air, plants, soil, fresh water, rocks, seawater as well as many foods.
Fluoride plays a role in the mineralization of your bones and teeth. It is an essential process to keep them hard and strong.
In fact, did you know that about 99% of the fluoride in your body is stored in bones and teeth?
Fluoride is also important to prevent teeth cavities, also known as tooth decay. For this reason, it has been included in the municipal water supply in many countries.
The bottom line is that fluoride is widely used in nature and is compatible with the mineralization of bones and teeth. Fluoride can also help prevent cavities.
Is Fluoride Bad For Your Teeth?
However, it is important to remember that fluoride can affect your children differently, especially if they are under 12 years old.
- You should also avoid toothpaste with fluoride until you are sure your child can spit it out (instead of swallowing it).
- Although your child would need to take in a large amount of fluoride before it causes actual harm, but avoiding the problem is generally considered preferable.
- Many dentists offer fluoride treatments.
- These treatments usually take no longer than a few minutes and can come in many forms, including gel, foam or varnish. If you decide to perform this treatment, the dentist will apply your fluoride with a cotton swab, brush or tray.
- After treatment you should avoid food and drinks for at least 30 minutes. This gives your teeth the ability to absorb fluoride.
Is Fluoride In Toothpaste Bad For You?
The short answer is no. Especially if used to brush your teeth and immediately spat out.
However, drinking/eating fluoride comes with a lot of controversy and conspiracy. Adding fluoride to public drinking water has been a controversial practice for decades to reduce tooth decay. This controversy is based on the following set of issues:
- Fluoridation of water began in the United States in the 1940s, and about 70% of the United States population currently receives fluoridated water.
- Fluorination is rare in Europe. For safety and efficacy reasons, many countries have decided to stop adding fluoride to drinking water.
- Many people are also skeptical of the effectiveness of this intervention. Some claim that dental health should not be treated with “mass medication” but should be treated on an individual level.
- Meanwhile, many health organizations continue to support the fluoridation of water, saying that it is a cost-effective way to reduce tooth decay.
So, is fluoride in toothpaste bad for you?
In toothpaste, no.
But water fluoridation is a public health measure that continues to be the subject of controversy and heavy debate. Although many health organizations support this, some argue that this practice is inappropriate and equates to mass medication.
Is Fluoride Bad For Your Brain?
The hippocampus is the structure in the brain that helps form memories. And problems with this part of the brain leads to learning difficulties and memory formation in several animal studies (Jiang et al., 2014).
This is why people jump to the conclusion that fluoride is bad for your brain.
But remember that the studies are based on work with animals and the link to issues in human brains are still inconclusive.
Is Fluoride Bad For Babies?
Fluoride is an effective way to prevent and even reverse the first signs of tooth decay. It makes the tooth structure stronger so that the teeth are more resistant to cavities.
Groups like ADA (American Dental Association) recommend brushing teeth and visiting the dentist from age 1. The hope is that the early introduction of fluoride toothpaste will help reduce the number of cavities in young children.
Many of us, of course, take fluoride through the water we drink, but not all parts of the country require fluoride to be part of the drinking water. Also, more and more families choose bottled water, which in most cases does not include fluoride.
Is Fluoride A Poison?
It can help prevent tooth decay, but ingesting it in large quantities by drinking water can cause serious health problems. Notice that the word I used was “ingesting” i.e. eating or drinking, remember that you DON’T eat toothpaste. You simply use it for your teeth and spit it out.
The real question of fluoride poison is when you actually drink or eat it (without spitting it out as you do when you brush your teeth).
This is mainly a problem in countries with naturally high levels of fluoride in water such as China and India.
But the good news is the amount of fluoride is strictly controlled in countries that deliberately add it to drinking water.
While some question the ethics behind this public health intervention, it is unlikely that fluoridated community water will cause serious health problems.
So no, fluoride is not technically a poison.
If you are still worried about fluoride in your water then use a water filter machine that removes fluoride.
Filters That Remove Fluoride
If you want to remove all the fluoride from your drinking water, here are some of the best water filtration systems you should consider for your home:
This is a water filter machine and this means that it takes a little more time and can only filter certain amounts of water at a time.
The Big Berkey filter unit is a good option for people who need to filter most of the contaminants, bacteria and almost all fluoride from your drinking water.
European Commission. Critical review of any new evidence on the hazard profile, health effects, and human exposure to fluoride and the fluoridating agents of drinking water. Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), 2011.
Peckham, S., & Awofeso, N. (2014). Water Fluoridation: A Critical Review of the Physiological Effects of Ingested Fluoride as a Public Health Intervention. The Scientific World Journal, 2014, 293019. http://doi.org/10.1155/2014/293019
Jiang S, Su J, Yao S, Zhang Y, Cao F. Fluoride and Arsenic Exposure Impairs Learning and Memory and Decreases mGluR5 Expression in the Hippocampus and Cortex in Rats (2014) PLOS ONE 9(4): e96041.