Question: I read on the internet that Fluoride is bad for you. Is that true?

Answer: Well, to answer that question, I have to begin with saying that you are correct in questioning scientific information that you get from the internet, especially from social media sites like Facebook. These are not quality scientific sites and therefore some of the“science” is not reliable.  That being said, there has been a long standing debate about the benefits of fluoride. When you see the anti fluoride stories on the internet, they often say they have scientific studies to back up their claims of brain damage, brittle bones and even autism. These studies were done in the few places in the world where the natural fluoride levels are thousands of times higher than normal. These studies should not be used to show that fluoride in toothpaste and drinking water are dangerous because the comparisons are just not valid. Too much fluoride is toxic. The same is true of all medicines and vitamins. In its proper dosage, fluoride is safe and has many health benefits. Babies and small children should not use toothpaste with fluoride because they will tend to swallow it.  Start the fluoridated toothpaste when they can reliably spit and rinse.

Some of the benefits of fluoride include the following. Fluoride in drinking water can reduce cavities by as much as 60%. Fluoride treatments in the dental office can reduce decay by 40% when given twice a year. Using a fluoride toothpaste can reduce cavities by up to 25%. Fluoride is also used with adults to reduce sensitive teeth and as an antibacterial rinse to help control periodontal disease. Adults who have “dry mouth syndrome” due to medications or certain conditions greatly benefit from fluoride to combat cavity formation. These are tremendous benefits!

The boom in drinking bottled water has greatly reduced some people’s exposure to fluoride. Most bottled water does not have any.  Mayer Bothers water in this area is one brand of bottled water that contains fluoride.  Also well water may not contain any fluoride. If you want to know how much fluoride is naturally occurring in your water you can have it tested. Then your dentist or physician can adjust the dosage of fluoride supplements accordingly.

All in all, the use of fluoride has helped curb tooth decay. As a dentist, I rarely have to do fillings on children in my general practice. This may not be the same for all dentist in all areas, but boy, I wish I had more fluoride when I was growing up!  If you have any questions about fluoride I recommend talking to your dentist. The American Dental Association also has good information on their website.