Thanks to fluoride, tooth decay levels have fallen significantly over the last few decades. Fluoride is in toothpaste and in many developed countries it is added to drinking water and table salt as a matter of course. However, despite the obvious benefits of fluoridation, there are many myths about fluoride and a lot of people think it’s bad for us. So if you are concerned about the effect of fluoride on your children’s teeth, or your children ask is fluoride bad for you, we are here to de-bunk the most common myths.
Fluoride Causes Cancer!
There have been dozens of studies searching for a link between cancer and fluoride. From the beginning, people have been suspicious of fluoride and the effect it has on our bodies, but despite all the research, no scientific studies have been able to establish a firm link between fluoridation and an increased risk of cancer. One U.S. study claimed that cancer death rates were higher in fluoridated cities, but the results were later analyzed and dismissed by scientists at the National Cancer Institute.
Fluoride is Toxic!
Pretty much anything is toxic if you consume enough of it, even oxygen, and fluoride is no different. We would need to ingest huge amounts of fluoride for it to be toxic. If you drank around 10,000 glasses of water the fluoride content might harm you, but in small doses, the most damaging effect of excessive fluoride consumption is to cause mild fluorosis in the tooth enamel of young children.
Fluoride Doesn’t Prevent Tooth Decay
Statistics and many studies on the effects of fluoride have all proven beyond any reasonable doubt that fluoridation can help prevent tooth decay, particularly in young children. The has even described fluoridation as one of the most important healthcare programs of the 20th century.
Fluoride Shouldn’t Be in Drinking Water
Fluoride is naturally present in drinking water, just not in very high amounts, and certainly not enough to protect teeth from decay. Health officials recommend that the ideal level of fluoride in drinking water should be 0.7 parts per million. This is the most cost-effective way to promote healthy teeth.
We Don’t Need Extra Fluoride
Tooth decay is less of a problem than it was a hundred years ago, thanks in part to better tooth care and an improved diet, but tooth decay is still a chronic problem in some communities. In the U.S. tooth decay is more prevalent than childhood asthma and in 2007, 874,000 Californian children missed school because of tooth problems. Because of this, there are still plenty of reasons to water fluoridation programs.
Communities where fluoride is not added to drinking water spend a great deal more on fixing dental problems in the local population. Poor dental health is very expensive in many ways, not least because it leads to pain, time off work, and health care bills.
One argument against fluoridation is that we don’t need any extra because toothpaste contains fluoride, but not everyone brushes their teeth often enough and fluoride is a cheap preventative measure at source.