Savior or poison? The answer is both! Living through 25+ years of treating patients with fluoride, I have heard it all. A large majority of my patient do not give having fluoride a second thought. It is simply something you need to have to maintain a healthy dentition. However, there is a small minority of patients that refuse fluoride treatment and sometimes I will ask them why. These are generally the answers I receive:
- I do not think it is worth the money
- I have not had any cavities for years
- It is not good for you
- Fluoride is the 17th most abundant element in the earth's crust
- It can form a compound with every other element except helium and neon, therefore is used in many different products including pesticides.
- It is found in most well water
- It has antibacterial properties
- It has been used since the 1950's in preventing cavities
- It is responsible for ushering dentistry into the modern era.
- Hydrofluoric acid - etching glass
- Sulfuryl fluoride - pesticide
- Sulfur hexafluoride - electrical insulator
- Uranium hexafluoride - used in isolating isotopes
- Polytetrafluoroethylene - teflon
- Fluoropolymer fabric - gore-tex
- Sodium hexafluorosilicate - to fluoridate water supplies for the prevention of tooth decay
- fluphenazine - antipsychotic drug
- tipranavir - HIV protease inhibitor for the treatment of AIDS
- ofloxacin - antibiotic
- trovafloxacin - antibiotic
- halothane - anesthetic
- Fluoride salts - are used as additives to many types of drugs to slow down the bodies metabolism in the liver's cytochrome P450 oxidases cycle.
- Fish- high in natural fluoride
- Tea- high in natural fluoride
Toxicology:Every element and chemical on the earth has a toxic level. There have been deaths report by ingesting too much water. It is toxic by both inhalation and ingestion. The usual dose of fluoridated water is in the range of 1 part per million (ppm or 1 mg per liter of water) while sea water is usually from 1.2-1.5 ppm and surface fresh water is about 0.01-0.3 ppm. Deep water well can have substantially higher amounts and can be as high as 2800 ppm.
Dental Fluoride Treatments:The days of swishing and splitting out a fluoride treatment at the dental office are long gone. The risk of a patient swallowing some of the old fluoride treatment was high and this was a problem especially with children. Critics of fluoride pointed this fact out and said it was responsible for higher than normal systemic fluoride levels in the body. It was a powerful tool in their argument against fluoride treatments in the dental office. However, with the advent of fluoride varnishes these same arguments do not apply. The fluoride is now bound up in a varnish and is not absorbed in the body systemically. It is safe for children as young as two years old and can be ingested without any problems that were seen with the old fashion liquid fluoride treatments of the past. Most of the fluoride varnishes on the market today have 5% sodium fluoride and some type of natural or synthetic resin base carrier. Some even have xylitol as a flavoring.
Fluoride varnishes were first approved as cavity liners in 1991, but recently the FDA/ADA has approved it for preventive cavity treatments in the dental office. While there are many illegitimate critics of fluoride in drinking water and in dental products, there are others who are looking at the scientific literature to verify the need for fluoridation with a fresh and new approach. They have finally understood that no one will take them seriously without science to back them up. And I say good for them and I hope they keep up the good work. Just do not force your opinions on someone without scientifically proven facts to back it up.