WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ASSUMED BENEFITS OF FLUORIDE?

The premise for adding fluoride to public drinking water supplies is that is helps to prevent tooth decay. This belief exists because scientists in the 1930’s found that people who ingested a lot of naturally occurring fluoride had lower levels of tooth decay.

The benefits that are often cited include:

PROTECTION FROM TOOTH DE-MINERALIZATION – Fluoride can protect teeth from the effects of acid produced by bacteria living in the mouth.

REMINERALIZATION – This is a process whereby fluoride promotes the rebuilding and strengthening of tooth enamel.

WHAT ARE SOME POSSIBLE DRAWBACKS OF WATER FLUORIDATION?

For all of its benefits, many scientific studies indicate that fluoride has some worrying effects on health, including:

Dental Fluorosis – This is the appearance of whitish or stained spots on the surface of the teeth, and is associated with ingesting too much fluoride.

Skeletal Fluorosis – This is a bone condition caused by over ingestion. It can cause hardened and less elastic bones, as well as joint problems.

It can accumulate in the body – This continues over the lifetime of the individual.

SHOULD IT BE IN THE WATER SUPPLY AT ALL?

The answer to this question is a mixed bag. Most countries of the world do not add fluoride to their water, and several that did and then ceased the practice did not notice any appreciable difference in the rates of tooth decay among the population.

However, many studies have indicated that fluoride does do the teeth some good, and may be especially helpful to kids.

The final answer depends upon the personal circumstances of the person or people in question. Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to consult with a local and trusted dentist.

After performing a detailed check of the teeth, they will be best qualified to advise patients about steps that should be taken to keep their teeth in the best possible shape. In the mean time, the great debate about fluoride will continue.