Myths about fluoride abound, but the following 15 facts may provide clarification about this essential element. If you have questions about fluoride, or other oral health topics, contact our dentist office today.
Myth: There’s enough naturally occurring fluoride in the water supply to protect teeth.
Fact: Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that’s found in almost all water supplies, but there isn’t enough to protect against cavities. Federal regulations were recently revised to require 0.7 parts per million for adequate protection, which means that more than 72 million Americans lack sufficient fluoride in their drinking water to adequately protect their teeth from cavities.
Myth: Adding fluoride to water is the same as forcing people to take medication.
Fact: Fluoride is a mineral, not a nutrient or a medication. Fluoride is the negative ion of fluorine, which is element 9 on the periodic table of elements. Like iodine is added to salt because of the health benefits, fluoride is added to water to fortify our teeth. The U.S. courts have ruled that fluoride is not a medication. Therefore people aren’t being forced to take medication they don’t want.
Myth: Not adding fluoride to water saves money.
Fact: Fluoridating water is a very cost-effective method for improving dental health. Research has indicated that between $38 and $45 is saved on healthcare costs for each dollar invested in fluoridation.
Myth: Fluoride is in toothpaste, it doesn’t need to be in the water supply.
Fact: Research has shown that communities with fluoridated water have lower rates of dental decay than areas without fluoridation. Many of the studies were conducted in areas after the introduction of fluoridated toothpaste but before their water supply was fluoridated.
Myth: Fluoride can cause fluorosis.
Fact: Although fluorosis occurs throughout the U.S., it’s usually mild. It doesn’t adversely affect the teeth or cause pain and appears as white specks on the teeth. Recent revisions by the federal government in the levels of fluoride in the water supply should continue to supply the needed fluoride while it reduces the occurrence of fluorosis.
Myth: Fluoridating water is the best way to prevent tooth decay.
Fact: The best defense against tooth decay is good oral hygiene. Fluoridated water alone isn’t sufficient. The combination of the two, however, can provide the best defense against dental decay.
Myth: If a child swallows fluoridated toothpaste, they can develop fluorosis.
Fact: Toothpaste is meant to be spit out of the mouth. It shouldn’t be swallowed. However, if a child swallows their toothpaste occasionally, they shouldn’t develop fluorosis. They should, however, be supervised when brushing their teeth.
Myth: Fluoridation causes cancer.
Fact: Many of the leading health and medical organizations endorse fluoridated water as safe and effective with demonstrable health benefits. No correlation has been shown to link fluoridated water with an increase in cancer rates.
Myth: People should be able to choose whether they want fluoride in their drinking water.
Fact: Since fluoridation of the drinking water requires community approval, it was approved by the people in areas where the natural water supply was fluoridated. In other areas, however, fluoride was present whether it was added or not. Almost all water contains fluoride. The only question is the amount of it.
Myth: Fluoride causes arthritis.
Fact: Research has indicated that the incidence of arthritis in areas that have fluoridated water is no higher than in areas that lack additional fluoridation in their water supply. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in almost all water.
Myth: Fluoride causes allergies.
Fact: Most foods and water supplies contain fluoride. Research has shown no correlation between fluoridated water and increased allergies.
Myth: Fluoridation is bad for infants.
Fact: Many international health organizations have endorsed fluoridated water for people of all ages. It improves dental health for infants, toddlers, and adults.
Myth: Fluoridated water isn’t allowed in Europe.
Fact: European countries and Latin America fluoridate their water but they use a different method than the one used by the U.S.
Myth: Fluoridation increases the risk of autism.
Fact: Research has indicated that there’s no correlation between the use of fluoridated water and the incidence of autism.
Myth: Fluoride isn’t a natural substance.
Fact: Fluoride is the negative ion of the element fluorine, which is number 9 on the periodic table of elements.