Dental Care

Non-Fluoride Toothpaste And Health Balance


Why and when should you use non-fluoride toothpaste?

Several of the world's industrialized countries, including the United States, fluoridate their public drinking water with the intend to improve the health of their citizens' teeth. 

Older studies estimate that approximately $120 in future dental costs are being saved for every dollar spent on water fluoridation. 

And fluoride is now an ingredient in most brands and varieties of toothpaste. 

Fluoride seems to keep teeth healthy and strong because -in theory- it prevents important minerals from leaching out of the dental enamel. 

The cavity rate in the general population has dropped significantly, maybe because of water fluoridation and people's use of fluoride toothpaste.

This daily exposure to small amounts of fluoride can be sufficient to keep most children and adults free or relatively free of cavities. 

According to www.fluoridealert.org, however, some people are concerned because of reports that certain chemicals used in the water fluoridation process, including sodium silicofluoride, fluorosilicic acid and sodium fluoride, are actually industrial waste products resulting from the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers. 

The veracity of this claim is up for question, but some people are nonetheless alarmed about the possibility.

Government Restrictions on Fluoride

Although some major health organizations around the world have endorsed the fluoridation of drinking water for the last 50 years, several countries prohibit or restrict the amount of fluoride that can be added into community water supplies. 

Different nations consider different amounts of fluoride to be acceptable, and accordingly impose different limits on their public water's fluoride levels.  In general, however, a water fluoride level of approximately one part per million (1.0 ppm) is typically considered to be acceptable.

Fluoride definitely has its good points with respect to maintaining healthy teeth, but it has also been proven to be a metabolic toxin.  As a result, some people prefer to use fluoride-free toothpaste. 

If swallowed in large amounts, fluoride toothpaste can be acutely toxic.  Even small amounts can cause chronic problems if ingested repeatedly over the course of time. 

Dental Fluorosis

The ingestion of larger amounts of fluoride over an extended period of time can result in dental fluorosis in young children. 

Dental fluorosis is an irreversible, permanent condition which varies in severity.  Most cases of dental fluorosis are fairly mild, causing cosmetically unappealing white, yellow or brownish spots or streaks on the enamel. 

However, more severe dental fluorosis causes deeper tooth discoloration and even some cracking and pitting of the teeth.

Other effects of fluorosis on the rest of the body is less studied. Bone formation seems to be influenced by the amounts of fluoride ingested over time, especially during childhood.

The U.S. National Health Service (the "NHS") recommends that parents supervise their young children's use of toothpaste (i.e., watch their children while they are brushing their teeth and make sure they don't squeeze out an extra dollop to eat).

The primary thrust of this recommendation is to enable parents to know whether their children are brushing properly, but a secondary purpose relates to parents' ability to monitor their children's toothpaste consumption and thereby minimize the potential risk of dental fluorosis.

Crucial Age For Fluoride

The teeth are primarily formed when a child is between the ages of three months and eight years. 

This important period is also when the child's exposure to fluoride should be monitored carefully, because an overexposure during that time can lead to fluorosis and other fluoride related health problems.

Because their teeth have already passed through the critical formative stages, older children and adults are essentially immune from dental fluorosis no matter how much fluoride they are exposed to.

Although dental fluorosis does not indicate "fluoride poisoning," even mild cases are a cosmetic issue, and an increasing number of parents are avoiding this potential concern by having their children brush with non-fluoride toothpaste. 

Alternatives

People who prefer non-fluoride toothpaste have several options available, including so-called natural or herbal toothpastes that contain strawberry extract, stevia, peppermint oil or myrrh. 

And, in 2006, the first toothpaste containing biomimetic synthetic hydroxylapatite appeared in Europe. 

Proponents claim this toothpaste formulation provides an effective alternative to fluoride for remineralizing and repairing dental enamel. 

Fluoride hardens teeth enamel by chemically converting it into a substance called fluorapatite.  In contrast, the biomimetic synthetic hydroxlyapatite in the European non-fluoride toothpaste is said to protect the teeth by creating a layer of "synthetic enamel" on and around the teeth.

Toxicity of Fluoride

According to the government, the fluoride levels in drinking water and fluoride toothpaste are low enough that most people who ingest fluoride by drinking fluoridated water and using fluoride toothpaste won't receive a harmful amount. 

The sole exception is young children, who are at risk of developing dental fluorosis if they are exposed to excess fluoride by swallowing fluoride toothpaste. Other possible harmful effects of fluoride on the body are less studied.

These concerns can be eliminated by having your children brush with non-fluoride toothpaste until they are eight years old.

 

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