Most people like to think they know a thing or two about fluoride. After all, it’s something the vast majority of people use on a daily basis and make an active effort to purchase. Having been identified as a beneficial agent in the preparation of dental health products, fluoride has been part and parcel of everyday life for millions of people for many decades. From toothpaste to fluoride mouthwash to prescription supplements and so on, it really is everywhere.
Of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum there are those who refuse to use fluoride and avoid it at all costs. They believe that the potential risks associated with using fluoride outweigh its benefits. Therefore, they don’t believe fluoride is suitable for themselves or their families.
So what’s the truth about fluoride? In a scientific sense, rather than personal opinion, what do we really know about the properties, beneficial effects and potential risks of fluoride?
Read on for a few interesting and important insights into fluoride, which should help separate the fact from the fiction:
Fact. Water contains fluoride, but not enough to provide protection for the teeth
While it’s true to say that the vast majority of water supplies contain a certain amount of fluoride, this alone isn’t sufficient to protect our teeth. That said, the trace amounts of fluoride present in everyday drinking water are considered to be better than nothing. Evidence suggests that in areas where fluoride is present in drinking water, the general state of oral health among the public appears to be slightly better. Though there are some who dispute this, stating that evidence isn’t nearly conclusive enough.
Fact. Fluoride is globally recognised as an important element for oral health
All over the world, thousands of studies have been carried out over the years into the potentially beneficial properties of fluoride. Of which pretty much every one has come up with the same conclusion – fluoride is good for oral health. Uniquely able to strengthen the teeth, prevent tooth decay and protect our mouths from daily attacks, pretty much every dentist in the world stands by the beneficial properties of fluoride. In fact, research has also shown that fluoride represents the single most cost-effective way of preventing tooth decay and building better oral health in general.
Fact. Swallowing trace amounts of toothpaste isn’t dangerous
Among those who do not approve of the use of fluoride in their own oral health and hygiene products, the reason is typically one of overall health preservation. Truth is, fluoride has the potential to be an unhealthy and even dangerous substance, should it be ingested in large quantities. However, you would have to consume quite a lot of toothpaste – either all at the same time or gradually over an extended period – to suffer any ill effects from the fluoride it contains whatsoever. There are almost no recorded cases of those who brush their teeth properly ever suffering any kinds of health complaints due to ingestion of fluoride. Of course, with the exceptions of those who have predisposed sensitivities to fluoride – a fractional minority of the public in general.
Fact. Fluoride is more harmful for babies and children
As is the case with most health and hygiene products, extra care and attention are required when it comes to babies and young children. Due to the fact that their developing bodies are more sensitive in general, they are naturally more sensitive to the potentially harmful effects of fluoride consumption. What’s more, it can also be difficult to prevent younger children in particular from swallowing toothpaste during their earliest years at least. Hence the importance of investing in a high-quality toothpaste designed specially for children, rather than allowing them to use toothpaste for adults.
Fact. The benefits of fluoride vastly outweigh the risks
When it comes to comparing the advantages of fluoride with the disadvantages, it’s really only the researchers, scientists and dentists who know what they are talking about. And as far as they’re concerned, the benefits of using fluoride products massively outweigh any potential risks. Particularly given the fact that just as long as every effort is made to avoid ingesting fluoride products, they pose pretty much no threat to our overall health whatsoever.
Fact. Fluoridated water is safe
Some people are so opposed to the use and consumption of fluoride that they will go to almost any lengths to avoid drinking fluoridated water. From filtration systems to drinking only bottled water and so on, they simply do not want fluoridated water in their systems. Nevertheless, countless studies carried out on the most enormous scales have shown that fluoridated water is comprehensively safe to drink. The levels of fluoride present in treated water being so incredibly low that they don’t even pose any health risk to children or babies. Once again, the extent to which fluoride would need to be consumed all at once or on a daily basis to pose any real threat is too enormous to realistically happen by accident.
Fact. Fluoride dental health products are better
Last but not least, unless you have any severe sensitivities, allergies or medical reasons, dentists comprehensively recommend the use of fluoride dental products. Extensive testing has shown time and time again that when it comes to tooth decay and a wide variety of other oral health issues, fluoride products perform so much better than those that do not contain any fluoride at all. So whether it’s the best fluoride mouthwash on the market or a high quality fluoride toothpaste, these are really the cheapest and most effective primary defences you have against a wide variety of oral health issues. While there may be alternatives available, evidence would seem to suggest they simply do not get the job done quite as well as fluoride alternatives.