What is Fluoride?
Fluoride and professionally applied fluoride varnishes and gels can prevent tooth decay and it's associated cavities, toothache, abscesses, pain, infections and even on rare occasions, death due to dental infections that could have been prevented !!
For some time now, it was noticed that those communities that had Fluoride in the water, had little or no dental decay, compared to those that had no Fluoride in the water for over 100 years now, so wouldn't it be a good idea to 'copy' this effect which has happened naturally in the first place?
You will read some Emotive claims that Fluoride is a poison and shouldn't be added to water - it has even been claimed that Dentists are in on some kind of conspiracy to put Fluoride in all the Water and you will read other, more bizarre extreme claims too.
Please keep in mind that the levels we are talking about are 'natural' levels eg: Sea Water has 0.7ppm levels of Fluoride (the same amounts in drinking water where it's added) and the Sea covers 7/10th of the Earth, so hardly 'toxic' at such levels; though of course even excess water can kill you, so it is all about proportionality and benefit to the most vulnerable!!
Whilst I agree a population should consent to addition of anything in the water, no matter how beneficial or cost-effective it may be, the idea that I and the vast majority of my Dental colleagues would "conspire" to add something to the water that at 1ppm (very low levels of 1 part per million parts water) would be harmful to the general population and our patients, friends and family, is frankly as ludicrous as many other extreme and emotionally biased anti-fluoride claims made.
The vast amount of Scientific study (the proper studies that have control groups to compare to!) show high safety levels and dental health benefits consistently clear. I am also proud of my Dental Profession who are prepared to put Public Health before their own personal gain, by consistently supporting a public health measure that is designed to prevent Tooth Decay and put Dentists out of a job !!!
So before jumping on any particular bandwagon, please feel free to read more below about Fluoride which some UK cities have been enjoying the benefits of for 50 years now, which scientific studies and monitoring have shown to be safe and effective too - indeed in Birmingham Dental School they have to "buy-in" children with decay so the students get enough practice doing big fillings - that's certainly not a problem in non-fluoridated Yorkshire, where decay, big fillings and tooth loss are plentiful - why shouldn't people in Yorkshire get the choice to safely Fluoridate water too !
Dental Prevention - Fluoride
The greatest breakthrough in preventive dentistry in the last fifty years has been the use of fluoride.
Almost all water naturally contains some fluoride. About 10% of the UK, all of Southern Ireland and three-quarters of American cities add additional fluoride to the water supply to prevent tooth decay. Fluoridated water alone has decreased the cavity rate for school children by 60% but especially helps all those in poorer areas. There are many benefits in the use of fluoride, for people of all ages. When children are young and their teeth are forming, fluoride joins with the enamel surface and makes it harder and more decay-resistant.
The benefits for adults are just as great. Fluoride can help repair an early cavity, even before it's become visible in the mouth, by rebuilding the enamel layer of the teeth.
Fluoride is also helpful in older adults, to help solve the problem of root caries or root sensitivity. And fluoride rinses or gels are sometimes prescribed to help eliminate germs that cause gum disease. Most dentists recommend fluoride toothpaste for all dental patients. Your dentist may also recommend additional sources of fluoride for increased protection. These include:
Gels or rinses
Another highly effective time for fluoride application is immediately following your cleaning in the dental office. A topical gel is applied with the use of a tray, or with another applicator. Fluoride is an important part of every tooth decay prevention program. When combined with the good hygiene habits of brushing and flossing, the number of cavities in children and adults can be dramatically reduced(along with dental treatment/extractions etc.)
Two parts per million fluorides are the ideal level for dental disease prevention, with only one ppm coming from water fluoridation. The rest should come from the diet we eat. So the levels added are very small and very safe and have been easily monitored/proven for decades now, indeed for 50 Years in Birmingham UK where people's general health hasn't suffered and where dental decay, toothache and the misery that goes with it, is one of the lowest in the UK. A fifty year trial of over 1 million Birmingham citizens is very convincing, don't you think?
This is a map of Fluoridation in the USA - if there was a real problem with fluoridated water, they would have been quick to sue, but if anything fluoridated water is even more extensively used in 2011 than in 2002.
Some scare stories reported in the press have said fluoride is poisonous, but this is only true in extremely high doses, massively higher than one ppm. A cup of tea a day could give you more fluoride than fluoridated water, as could a piece of fish. However, common sense dictates that if the water is fluoridated at 1ppm (half daily need), these other dietary sources are safe too.
Or do we BAN a cup of tea and traditional fish and chips because of their fluoride?
A more common side effect of long-term excessive fluoride intake is the mottling of some teeth. These white patches may be unsightly in extreme cases, but they are super tough, will never decay and are easily improved Dentally. Compared to dark decay, holes or dentures, they are acceptable in most cases and indeed most people wish their WHOLE tooth went white, which Tooth Whitening may help achieve conservatively.
Tooth mottling is usually due to children "eating" whole tubes of toothpaste or having excessive fluoride supplements over many years. They usually also have no decay whatsoever, not even one filling! However, one should not be complacent and child usage of toothpaste should be monitored carefully, as should water concentrations.
So as my Grandma used to say, everything in moderation is a good rule in life!
With such safeguards, Fluoride is safe, as is every other additive to drinking water!
The reality is that without fluoride in our diets, we would die without it!
Yes really, it is an essential element of life. Of course if one MASSIVELY overdoses on anything then it will probably kill you eventually, but to call Fluoride a poison at such low healthy levels is an emotional response, not a logical or scientific one!
At one ppm in water, it helps prevent the most common disease to mankind, simply by copying what happens in naturally fluoridated water supplies. Of course, we shouldn't become complacent and stringent quality control checks should be made of water supplies to ensure optimum concentrations of fluoride, general cleanliness etc. are continually maintained. This has been done for decades now in many areas safely and effectively, yet 90% of the UK continues to be denied these health benefits.
If your water supply does not yet benefit from the optimum level of fluoride, then additional topical applications for adults and children can be prescribed by your Dentist or Specialist as appropriate.
Don't miss finding out if you are preventing dental cavities to the max, for Children and Adults Prevention pays!