Myths concerning fluoride in water, products have no basis in fact
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
11/28/12 at 4:22 AM
Dear Doctor K: I'm confused. Is fluoride harmful or not?
Dear Reader: As far as I have been able to determine, the rumors linking fluoride to a broad range of ills - from heart disease to allergies to genetic abnormalities - have no scientific backing.
Fluoride can be lethal if you ingest excessive amounts. However, an adult would have to consume 5,000 to 10,000 glasses of fluoridated water in one sitting to reach dangerous levels. Young children could develop toxicity from fluoride if they swallow large numbers of improperly stored fluoride tablets, or ingest large amounts of a fluoridated toothpaste or mouth rinse.
A minor drawback to using fluoride is the risk of fluorosis, a condition that discolors tooth enamel. Fluorosis appears in permanent teeth when a child ingests too much fluoride while these teeth are forming in the gums.
People of all ages can reduce their risk for tooth decay by regularly exposing their teeth to fluoride. Fluoride in the saliva enhances the body's ability to rebuild tooth enamel when acid-producing bacteria cause it to decay. This new enamel is harder and more decay-resistant than the original tooth surface. Fluoride makes it harder for plaque to stick to your teeth. It also makes it more difficult for bacteria to turn sugar into acid.
One of the simplest ways to get fluoride is from drinking water. You can also use toothpaste that contains fluoride. For most people, these two sources of fluoride are sufficient to keep decay in check.
Bottled water contains little or no fluoride, and fluoride is also removed from the water in some home water-treatment systems. You can get additional fluoride via mouth rinses, oral supplements, or treatments such as fluoride gels and varnishes applied by your dentist.
The widespread fluoridation of drinking water is often cited as one of the 10 great public health accomplishments of the 20th century.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106