Fluoride and Dental Health
Table of Contents
Is fluoride good for dental health?
That is a question I am asked almost every day in my practice.
Hi, It’s Dr. Michelle Jorgensen from Total Care Dental and Wellness, and this month I will be writing two blogs about fluoride to answer this question.
This first one will be about fluoride and dental health, and the next will be about fluoride and its effect on your entire body.
For decades, we have been told that fluoride is the cure for tooth decay, and the CDC has even named water fluoridation as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.
That is the prevailing view among dentists today.
However, some studies are showing a different side that includes the potential shortcomings and dangers of fluoride.
So, what do I think?
Well, let’s start with some history.
The beginnings of Fluoride
In the early 1930s, a dentist named Frederick McKay noticed a peculiar trend among people living around him in Colorado.
Many of them had brown spots on their teeth, and his later research found that although these teeth didn’t look very nice, they were surprisingly resistant to decay.
He discovered that these people were drinking water with high levels of fluoride, which caused these brown spots.
This is known today as “fluorosis”, which changes the appearance of the teeth and potentially creates more decay-resistant teeth.
Subsequent research into this phenomenon found that small amounts of fluoride could reduce some tooth decay while not causing brown stains.
The government used these findings to conclude that it would be a public health benefit to add fluoride to public water systems to increase resistance to tooth decay.
It also became common practice to add fluoride to dental products such as toothpaste and mouth rinse.
So, the question is whether this massive influx of fluoride into our bodies is good for dental health or not.
The case for fluoride
Fluoride has been reported to, “greatly help dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. It also reduces the amount of acid that the bacteria on your teeth produce.”
Studies from the 1900’s all the way to the present day have found that communities with fluoridated water have lower incidence of cavities compared to those that don’t have fluoridated water.
However, more recent studies have shown that the gap is rapidly narrowing.
Current experts are coming to the conclusion that fluoride applied directly to the teeth can help avoid tooth decay, but many are questioning the safety and overall effects of fluoridated water.
The case against fluoride
I want to go back to the basics of what a tooth is made of and how it stays healthy and resists decay.
A tooth is not made of fluoride. It is made of crystals of hydroxyapatite which are calcium and phosphate.
When fluoride is introduced to the tooth, it displaces the calcium and forms a different crystal called fluorapatite.
A cavity is not from fluoride deficiency – it is from minerals- particularly calcium- being pulled from the teeth.
Rather than change the tooth, I prefer to add back what the tooth is missing, namely calcium and minerals.
Most of us only hear about the benefits of fluoride, and never hear an explanation about the way it really changes teeth.
The bad news is that when taken internally, with water or swallowing mouth care products, it also changes bones and other things in the body.
There are many studies showing its potential dangers dating back to the early 1900s.
Why would fluoride be potentially harmful?
As this article states, “As a pure gas, fluorine is ‘the most reactive and electronegative of all the elements.’ It has extremely damaging effects to any living organism with which it comes into contact.”
Fluoride and Dental Health: My Conclusion
I’ll keep it simple.
I avoid fluoride and think that you should too.
I prefer to strengthen and rebuild teeth with the minerals they are made of.
- I think that topically fluoride has benefits if it stays right where you put it, but as I explain in this blog, any toothpaste or dental product with fluoride also contains many other ingredients that just aren’t good for your mouth or your body.
- From my experience and the research I have seen, I avoid fluoridated water. I’ll explain some practical tips for avoiding it in the next blog. I don’t like something being added to the water in an uncontrolled dose, whether I need it or not.
- However, there is one thing I really want you to know! The biggest reason I don’t use fluoride is because I can get all of the same benefits and more, simply from diet and other dental products.
That is the reasoning I use with my colleagues and others who are firm believers in fluoride.
I don’t argue with them about whether fluoride is dangerous or not.
I simply explain that there are potential benefits and potential dangers with fluoride, so I recommend getting the same benefits from another source without the potential dangers.
My recommendations for strengthening teeth
- The first is diet. You can download my FREE Healthy Mouth Diet Sheet here to learn 5 ways you can improve your dental health with diet.
- The second is good dental products. I wrote a whole blog about that here.
And, one of my favorite companies just came out with a wonderful new product!
It’s called Earthpaste Silver, and you can learn more about it here.
Also, make sure to use the code “Total Care Dental” at checkout to get 15% off!
Did you learn something new today?
I hope so! I talk to my patients about these important topics every day in my office.
At Total Care Dental and Wellness, our goal is to answer all your questions and find the safest and most effective ways to help you achieve better dental and overall health.
Schedule your appointment here so we can start helping you now!
See you soon,