If you read my article Be Your Own Dentist, you already know my stance on oral care. Taking responsibility of our over-all health and teaching our kids to do the same is so important! In this article I’m going to expand on my relationship with our dentist a bit. I love our dentist’s office and I have never felt pressured or judged in any way for my beliefs and practices. However, they never fail to offer me services that I turn down every time we visit with the kids. Fluoride treatments are on the top of this list! These treatments are marketed to parents as a simple, quick step that will protect the mouths of our babies from anything that could cause a cavity. That may or may not be true, but the question I am asking is “At what cost?” “What are the long term effects of this treatment?” “Show me the research on the success of this product.”
This has to start at the beginning. What is fluoride? In most cases it is an inorganic industrial waste product that has the potential to be extremely toxic in certain levels and when mixed with different liquids. There are organic fluorides that can be found in minerals, salts and water in various parts of the world as well as in some foods such as black tea or raisins.
Excessive amounts of fluoride have been linked to cancer, arthritis, thyroid disease as well as skeletal and dental fluorosis. Most of these come from ingesting fluoride. The US is the only country where the drinking water is fluoridated! The reasoning behind this is to improve oral health across the country, specifically in impoverished areas. Although there have been studies that prove that ingesting fluoride has no effect on oral health. The teeth must come into contact with the fluoride for it to adhere, when it is ingested the body stores it in our bones causing a multitude of degenerative issues. To remove this nasty stuff from the tap water you will need more than a filter pitcher in your refrigerator or even a water cooler dispenser. There are 3 filtering systems that will safely remove fluoride and all the other harmful things we find in our H2O. Reverse Osmosis, Solid Block Carbon and Under Counter Multi-Stage Filters are all effective methods. Safe levels of fluoride ingestion for adults would be 10mg/day (you would need to drink 10 liters of water to consume this much fluoride), for infants and children it ranges from .7 – 2.2mg/day. This makes a tube of fluoridated toothpaste, having an average of 130mg, harmful and possibly even deadly to a child under the age of 4. Dental fluoride treatments contain an average of 7.7mg of fluoride, and the gel is absorbed into the body even if it is not swallowed. In some cases even one swallow has been documented to cause nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal problems in children.
So now that we know the safe intake amounts and the risks… lets look at the benefits. Fluoride protects the enamel of the teeth, preventing cavities and tooth decay. Maybe not! There are studies that have shown little to no difference in the amount of cavities in children who have had the treatment and those who haven’t. If you did no at home care and had a poor diet then sure I could see this being preventative, but if you and your children have a good routine of taking care of your teeth then the risks are far outweighing the benefits here!
The bottom line for me, and my kiddos, is that I have to practice and teach good habits. I share with them why we turn down the treatment at the dentist office and what that means for our home care. I feel good knowing I’m not harming my children by not blindly following the recommendation of our dental hygienist… in fact I’m protecting them.