Over the past decade or so, adults have strayed away from fluoride toothpaste in an attempt to go “natural” and cavity-free. A study completed by the Department of Oral Health Science at the University of Washington (UW), found that dental caries, or “cavities”, affect 99.8 percent of today’s global population. The UW study also found that the absence of fluoride in oral hygiene routines has failed to produce any benefits in terms of reducing cavities. Yet, stigmas, trends and fears of fluoride continue to lead many to believe that fluoride-free toothpaste prevents cavities.
What is fluoride?
What is this fiercely contested ingredient found in our dental products? Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in almost all-natural water sources. This special mineral helps prevent cavities by strengthening the enamel of our teeth through the process of remineralization and demineralization. As early as the 1940’s, scientific data suggested that those who lived in areas which contained naturally fluoridated water had fewer cavities than those who lived in areas without the mineral. In fact, current studies tell us that the increase in fluoride, whether naturally occurring or added to water supplies via treatment, has helped decrease tooth decay in the United States by at least 25 percent. Given its results, experts in the dental health community have claimed the exposure of fluoride into our water sources to be one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century. Today, we find fluoride in most of our dental products, including toothpaste and mouthwash.
However, it is extremely important for physicians, dentists and patients to fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of fluoride. High dosages of fluoride can be toxic and lead to poisoning. This compound occurs naturally in our environment, and we mainly consume it in healthy, small amounts via ingestion, respiration and fluoride supplement. Most poisoning incidents occur from unsupervised ingestion or over-fluoridate water treatment, which can be avoided.
The FDA has approved a specific dosage that is appropriate and safe for all dental products, which helps fight against any potential overdose. In fact, fluoride is a requirement for any toothpaste with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. In the state of New York, some local governments add fluoride to the water and some do not. Nassau and Suffolk counties are both known for supplying non-fluoridated water. Dr. Bruce Valauri, of ProHEALTH Dental, recommends that families and individuals who live in these areas supplement fluoride to help further prevent cavities, especially children.
Fluoride has been good to our teeth, and with care and diligence, it will help maintain healthy smiles for hundreds of years to come.