You’ve seen it in the supermarkets, hundreds of options for fluoride-free toothpaste with ‘natural ingredients’ but what does this actually mean?
The more options that show up, the more we question how natural fluoride is.
With all the information flying at us from every direction, it’s difficult to discern fact from fiction, which is why it’s time to have a discussion.
Continue reading for 5 debunked myths about Fluoride…
What Do We Know About Fluoride?
To completely understand fluoride, it’s best to start with the basics. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water all across the UK, but varies significantly depending on the source, such as a river or ocean.
That’s right, natural. Completely organic.
The star quality of fluoride is that it helps prevent tooth decay. Yes it’s true, this little mineral actually helps keep your teeth healthier for longer.
This is because fluoride strengthens your enamel making your teeth tougher and less vulnerable to cavities.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Look, we all know what tooth decay is, but to understand fluoride and its benefits we need to delve deeper into this topic.
Tooth decay is a global health concern and is currently a large problem in the UK. It happens when dental tissue is gradually destroyed by acids caused by harmful bacteria found in dental plaque.
Dental plaque is a continuously-forming substance that latches onto your teeth and solidifies. Once it’s hardened, nothing but a trip to the dentist can remove it.This will eventually lead to cavities (holes) in the teeth and possible infection which can be seriously painful and may need extracting.
Now, onto the myths:
You Don’t Need Fluoride To Clean Your Teeth
Technically, this is absolutely true. Fluoride isn’t absolutely essential for maintaining oral and dental health because there are a number of alternatives.
The purpose of brushing daily with fluoride toothpaste is to strengthen your enamel and prevent cavities. Fluoride can also help stop plaque from spreading to other areas of the mouth.
So even though it’s not necessary for maintaining clean and white teeth, it’s very useful in preventing plaque build-up and cavities.
Again, having fluoride toothpaste isn’t a make-or-break, but if you’re pondering on getting other fluoride-free alternatives then it’s highly recommended replacing it from other sources.
Examples such as fluoride mouthwash or even fluoride tablets, would definitely do the trick.
Having Fluoride In Water Is Excessive
Yes, there’s a lot of fluoride in most toothpastes, and for good reason. However, this amount just isn’t enough.
Here’s a little statistic for you, although most people in the UK use toothpaste with a high concentration of fluoride, the rate of tooth decay in children and teenagers without access to fluoridated water is 45% higher than those with access!
Even though fluoride toothpaste is an important part of your everyday oral care practices, it works best in combinations with fluoridated water to enhance the overall protection of your teeth.
Public Fluoridation Is Taking Away Our Choice!
Adding fluoride to communal water supplies means that our local governing bodies are forcing us to drink fluoride without our consent, right?
Well, not exactly..
The first counterargument is that fluoride is found almost everywhere, so it doesn’t particularly matter where you live or who your government is, chances are you’re going to have some amount of fluoride in your water regardless.
So instead of it being a matter of choice, it’s much more a matter of increasing what’s already there. If you’re already consuming some fluoride, why not add a little more to keep your teeth in tip-top condition.
Additionally, fluoride isn’t a chemical. According to the National Institute of Health and the UK’s National Health Service, fluoride is recognised globally as a mineral. The American Institute of Geology defines a mineral as “a naturally occurring inorganic element.”
If this element can be harnessed to promote and support human health, then shouldn’t it be welcomed with open arms?
Fluoride Causes Cancer
This myth comes from a 1990 report from a National Toxicology Programme in which male rats that had been given water with high levels of fluoride. Over a period of two years, these rats developed an unusually high number of bone tumours.
But since then, the National Cancer Institute has tested this theory on both animals and humans and saw no link between high-fluoride water and cancer rates.
Recently, Cancer Causes and Control (2016), the International Journal of Epidemiology (2014), and the Journal of Dental Research (2011) have all reached the same conclusion as the National Cancer Institute.
So pay this myth no mind, drink your tap water and make sure you show off that healthy smile!
Europe Doesn’t Fluoridate Its Water
Why should we do it here if they don’t do it there?
It’s true, many countries in Europe don’t add fluoride to their water supplies, but they absolutely get it from other sources. Countries like Switzerland and Hungary consume salt with high levels of fluoride.
The Swiss have some of the lowest rates of dental decay in Europe because their salt replaces the fluoride that they’d have in their natural drinking water.
The countries that use fluoridated water are the UK, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland which have government regulations on fluoridated water, with the Republic of Ireland being the only European country to mandate this.
Bringing It All Together…
Ultimately, having minerals in our water is very good for our health. Those of us that buy bottled water know that natural spring water is full of these minerals that help us live a vigorous life.
Having these essential minerals in our water, and more of them, in the interest of public health and well-being is important, because if we can’t get it from our water sources then we should be getting it from other sources.
Remember, whether you’re drinking water, using toothpaste, mouthwash or even eating salt, make sure you get your daily dose of fluoride to keep your teeth as strong as they can be!