fluoride facts

Fluoride is a mineral compound that is naturally found in water and soil. Fluoride is one of the essential compounds for maintaining oral health.

Functions of fluoride include tooth remineralization, prevention of tooth decay and cavity formation, and resistance to action against acids from foods and beverages.

Fluoride was first introduced in the form of water fluoridation that began in 1945 in the United States.

As useful as it proved to be in the early days, fluoride is raising some controversy in terms of its utility, efficiency, and need. (1)

The ADA strongly supports the use of fluoride in drinking water as it has clinically been proved useful for dental health.

However, the American Medical Association states that fluoride added to drinking water is merely a toxic byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry.

Moreover, it is this fluoride that can cause a change in the permeability of the cell membrane by specific enzymes.

But is it true? The following ten facts reveal the truth about fluoride.

Fluoride facts

  • Water fluoridation is not a part of many developed countries – the United States is one among the few countries that still implement the use of fluoridated water. Most of Americans drink fluoridated water than the people in the rest of the world. Unlike the U.S, Western Europe has disregarded the use of fluoride. About 97% of the European population drinks non fluoridated water. However, they use fluoride in the salt. (2)
  • Incidence of tooth decay is relatively the same regardless of fluoride use – earlier studies were proof of a decline in tooth decay among the people of the countries which encouraged fluoridated water. However, recent WHO data has revealed that there is no discernable difference in dental caries between countries that use fluoridated water and the countries that don’t.
  • Effect of fluoride on body tissues – it is believed that fluoride is an endocrine disruptor and potentially affects the brain, bones, thyroid gland, and even blood sugar levels. However, there is no sufficient data available to prove the above facts. (3)
  • Fluoridation is not considered as a natural process – the process of water fluoridation is carried out by introducing fluorosilicic acid, which is a corrosive acid captured in the air pollution devices of the phosphate fertilizer industry. This compound can cause potential damage to the brain and other organs.
  • Fluoride overexposure is increasing in the United States – A recent survey done by CDC revealed that around 40% of the American teenagers suffer from dental fluorosis. In this condition, excessive fluoride interferes with the tooth-forming cells and alter the layers of the tooth. Fluorosis is detected by the presence of brown stains along with enamel erosion. Children in the U.S receive fluoride from many sources besides water; this is one of the reasons for an increased incidence of fluorosis. (4)
  • Fluoride is a potential hazard for infants – breast milk usually contains low amounts of fluoride, which is adequate for the baby. But fluoridated water used in formula milk includes 100 times more fluoride than the general requirement. Such high levels of fluoride can affect the brain of the infant and cause a decrease in IQ.
  • Fluoride supplements are not FDA approved and have no assurity to work well for children.
  • Topical fluoride applications performed professionally in dental clinics have more beneficial value as compared to water fluoridation.

Fluoride is like a double-edged sword; it has its benefits as well as its disadvantages. The best way to stay healthy is to consume moderate amounts of fluoride.