Ok, now for one from the dental world. A very hot topic that has come to the forefront of dental discussions is the debate about fluoride, and the potential dangers associated with it. I get asked about it every single day in my office. For many decades now, there has been the advice of using fluoride to help strengthen enamel against the sugars, acids, etc. in our diet. Fluoride has a strong affinity for calcium, so as in the case of tooth enamel, which is predominantly calcium, it helps to “harden” the surface, making it less penetrable to acids and decay. It has also been heavily researched, defended and proven to be a solution for repairing and defending against the effects of a diet heavy in processed sugars, which is unfortunately what our society has today. Therein lies the major issue. Let me explain.
As a follower of a primal/paleo diet and lifestyle, I personally am against the processed junk all around that our society calls “food”, especially high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I also am a proponent of overall chemical free healthy living, and along with that, I know that fluoride is debated to be among those chemicals. Many people have come to the conclusion that fluoride is potentially dangerous for our bodies, and I agree in part. Ingesting regular amounts of fluoride has been found to have a potential tie-in with multiple metabolic and physical issues due to its affinity for calcium, and that can be cited by a quick search of the internet. While I always caution people to not form opinions based on Google searches, one can see that there many potential dangers of over-ingestion of fluoride. In fact, I am actually NOT a fan of fluoridating our city water supplies for this very reason. I am, however, a fan of applying fluoride to the surface of the teeth, whether personally in toothpaste or professionally with fluoride treatments. Why? Simple. Many of us, especially our kids, have a diet very heavy in carbohydrates and sugars. Big business bottom lines and personal convenience have led us into a trap of eating virtually everything from a bag or box, and HFCS is everywhere. Many studies have been conducted to compare the difference in tooth decay and gum disease between cultures with processed food diets and ones with no processed foods. Big difference. When there is the presence of processed sugar, there will be the high risk of decay. With no processed sugars, little to no decay. Pretty easy concept.
So to counteract this processed diet, we need a solution to help repair and defend the enamel of our teeth, and that is fluoride. That doesn’t mean to drink it though. While there have been defenses stating it can help make teeth stronger as they are developing, once they form, ingesting fluoride no longer has a positive effect. It only has a positive effect on the enamel when it is applied topically. That’s mainly due to the fact of the known damages of sugar and acid on enamel, and the remineralizing effects of fluoride. Along those lines, many patients have been concerned because they have reverse osmosis filters in their homes, which remove fluoride. No big deal there. In fact, I think its ok to take it out of the water, but please don’t be afraid of your toothpaste. If you are a purist and want to use toothpaste products with no fluoride, that is fine, but also make sure you have NO sugars or processed foods in your diet! Otherwise, you may want to keep using the fluoride toothpaste. Granted, there are those who are genetically blessed with strong teeth, and even though they barely take care of themselves and they eat nothing but junk, somehow their teeth stay healthy. At least so far. My advice is to not push your luck though. That’s a rare blessing. Everyone else is subject to damage, that is unless you can have a sugarless diet, which by the way, is entirely possible. (You may want to read my earlier post “Put down the candy”)
So let’s not condemn fluoride. Let’s control the delivery of it, and not overdo it. Ultimately, you are in control of your own body and you make your own decisions. Inform yourself and make the call. As for me, I will always use fluoride even though I rarely have any sugar in my diet. I’ll drink my filtered water, but I’ll stick to the fluoride toothpaste. Its too risky in our society to remove it totally. I have seen too much in the dental chair to convince me otherwise. Just my two cents.