Sure, fluoride is said to fight tooth decay. Many kinds of toothpaste out on the market today contain it as a preventative anti-cavity measure, along with harmless ingredients like baking soda and inactive matters. But did you know that by using toothpaste that contains fluoride, you might be contributing to some serious future health problems in you or your children? And that fluoride may not actually be of any help against cavities?
After reading this article, I think you’ll be prepared to purchase a safe and effective non fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride in Our Drinking Water
Fluoride in our drinking water has been around since the Cold War – incidentally, since the Manhattan Project began producing an excess of fluoride – and the dangers within it have been written about since. In fact, fluoride has been implicated in several controversial articles, including one report that was supposed to run in a popular magazine but never made it past the censors! Still, for some reason, this substance is found in 60% of American drinking water. How can this be?
Let’s look at some of the properties, history, and pros and cons of fluoride.
Effects of Long-term Fluoride Consumption
Fluoride is a reduced form of the element fluorine – a very volatile, highly reactive element in the halogen group. Various fluorides can be useful in medical procedures, and fluoride is thought by the general public to be safe to children’s teeth and bones and especially helpful in the growing process. But now research is showing us that fluoride accumulates in lab rats – and their dosage is much lower, and in shorter periods of time.
Furthermore, it causes certain cancers and has been linked to Down’s Syndrome. What are the effects of long-term fluoride consumption in humans? Unknown!! Some research exists to indicate that fluoride may contribute to thyroid problems later in life.
Damage to Teeth due to ‘Over-fluoridation’
Over-fluoridation can also cause damage to teeth – the exact opposite of the effect we’re told fluoride has! Called dental fluorosis, the condition is caused by an excess of the substance; its characteristics include the presence of white flecks on teeth and a weakening of the dental surface.
In severe form, it leads to brown or dark spots on teeth. Children are especially vulnerable because of their small size and their rapid tooth and bone development – in fact, in 2006, the American Dental Association suggested that babies have their formula prepared with fluoride-free water to avoid fluoride-related problems. How is this not common knowledge?
Oral Health Care WITHOUT Fluoride
There are a number of ways to maintain your oral health care without fluoride. Choose fluoride-free toothpaste – if possible, go natural with Tom’s of Maine products (best whitening toothpaste) or similar generics. Ingredients like baking soda and hydrogen peroxide will clean and neutralize your mouth without accumulating in your system.
You should also check out Skrewtips’ variety of articles on natural dental care for some thoughts on making your own mouthwash and incorporating herbs into your oral care routine. Also, you should call your water company and find out their fluoridation levels. Your state’s and/or county’s website should have the required contact information. Stay informed and don’t fall into the fluoride trap!
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.