Fluoride is a word that is so closely associated in our minds from a young age with dental health that it can be difficult to imagine that it could ever be harmful. But newer studies show that an overabundance of fluoride is, indeed, harmful to our dental health and even overall health.
It was added to municipal water supplies starting in the 1940s as research begin to show that fluoride was beneficial to helping prevent tooth decay and made the mineral available to even those low-income families that had limited access to professional dental care.
Nearly 80 years later, fluoride is added to so many different products, from mouthwashes to fillings, that its presence in the water is feared to be exposing the public to too much fluoride.
What is Fluoride and What Does It Do?
Fluoride is an abundantly available mineral that fights tooth decay, leading to less cavities and pain. It has enjoyed the wide-open arms of the dental community for many years and very few toothpaste commercials fail to mention it as a vital part of good dental health. But, as has been proven in many other areas of life, too much of a good thing is usually a bad thing.
Dental fluorosis is a condition in younger children’s baby teeth where white spots develop on the surface of the tooth. It is not a risk to the health of the tooth, but it’s effects are noticeable.
Skeletal fluorosis is much more damaging, as the excess fluoride in the body can lead to this bone disease. Bones harden and become less elastic, making fractures an increased risk.
Thyroid problems are another possibility when too much fluoride damages the parathyroid gland, resulting in hyperparathyroidism, which can deplete calcium from bone structures.
Adding fluoride to water is likened to adding vitamins to food and drinks. Small doses are good for you. Just make sure you call our office before starting any fluoride supplements to make sure that you aren’t overexposed in your daily life.