Is Fluoride Safe?
Dr. Nick Cicortas, DMD
Lifeway Dental of Boca
9101 Lakeridge Blvd., Unit 9
Boca Raton, FL 33496
Few subjects incite as much diverse, fervent discussion as the topic of fluoride, fluoridation, and the safety profile of this little element. Though located on the right side of the periodic table of the elements, it often finds itself on the wrong side of the discussion. In today’s article, I will present some highlights about fluoride that will inform and with any luck, encourage further reading. What is Fluoride? Fluoride, a version the element fluorine, is found in all natural waters where it emerges by leaching out of rocks and soil. Indeed, it is the 13th most abundant element in the earth’s crust. In ocean water, one can
find fluoride in the range of 1.2-1.4ppm. For reference, the US Public Health Service describes 0.7-1.2ppm as the optimum range in drinking water.
Did you know? Shark teeth are 100% fluoride at the surface. We know that cavities are caused by acid that dissolves the tooth and a tooth exposed to fluoride will be ten times more resistant to acid attack. Fluoride can be delivered by local application on the tooth surface, such as with toothpaste. Fluoride that is ingested, like that in drinking water, is released in saliva and continually bathes teeth. In the early 1900s, it was discovered that children in Colorado with yellow stains had almost no cavities thanks to the high fluoride levels in the region’s water.
As with most substances, it is helpful in small amounts, but can be dangerous in large quantities. Overexposure has been linked to white spots (pitting) on teeth and skeletal fluorosis. The EPA is tasked with monitoring the upper thresholds of water fluoride concentration, currently set at 4ppm. The CDC recommends optimal levels to prevent decay, and localities ultimately decide whether to add it or not to drinking water. For more information, check out www.mouthhealthy.org.