Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Case For and Against Fluoride

I have been reading about the use of fluoride in our toothpaste and I never realized that this topic can be so controversial. There are those who strongly believe that fluoride is very important for dental health and there are those who are strongly against its use. 

Demineralization and remineralization are two processes where minerals are lost and added to a tooth's enamel layer each day. Demineralization happens when acid that is produced due to bacteria and sugar, erodes tooth enamel and damages our teeth. Remineralization happens when minerals such as fluoride and calcium get redeposited to the tooth enamel when we consume food and water. Tooth decay can happen when one experiences too much demineralization without enough remineralization to repair the enamel layer.

The Case For Fluoride

Fluoride is believed to help prevent tooth decay and protect from demineralization by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria and sugars in the mouth. Fluoride also strengthens the enamel as it accumulates in the demineralized areas and thus making our teeth stronger and prevent cavities. Fluoride also helps speed remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both children and adults. Water authorities add fluoride to tap-water because they say it reduces the prevalence of tooth decay in the local population. Proponents of fluoride believe that fluoride is only harmful is excess dosage as it may cause fluorosis and fluoride toxicity but it is not a problem if consumed on a small amount through drinking water and toothpaste (which we spit out anyways).

The Case Against Fluoride

On the flipside, many studies and researches, such as this and this, believe the risks much outweigh the benefits of using fluoridated toothpaste and that fluoride is a known carcinogen and toxic waste product of the fertilizer and aluminium industry. Flouride toxicity can also affect the brain, bone, kidney, thyroid, and teeth.

Where Do I Stand

At this point, I'm still using fluoridated toothpaste because my dentist strongly suggests it, but my two-year old is using non-fluoridated toothpaste because she can't spit out the toothpaste yet and Singapore's water is already fluoridated. She is using Earthpaste toothpaste if you are curious, it's the best non-fluoridated toothpaste I know so far that doesn't include preservatives, toxic ingredient like sodium lauryl sulfate, glycerin, or artificial sweeter like saccharin. 

I'm no fluoride expert and I don't claim that what I'm doing is the best for everyone, but it's what I decide to do given the information I currently know. It's worth mentioning that proper and nutritious diet play a critical role in keeping our teeth healthy. In his book, Nutrition and Psychical Degeneration, Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist, explained that our teeth are the first part of our body to noticeably be affected when our bodies are not properly nourished. Consuming real and traditional foods are necessary to keep our teeth healthy, and even reverse tooth decay. A modern diet full of refined and processed foods not only damage and rot our teeth, but also displace the nutrients that our body needs.

What do you think about the use of fluoride in our toothpaste?

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