The use of fluoride in dentistry is something that has brought about a lot of controversy over the years, and likely will for many more to come. And like many other things in life, there are pros and cons to the choices we make about fluoride, and will ultimately come down to a personal choice. At My Family Dentist we respect each person’s right to choose for themselves if they want fluoride treatment, and we will help guide them if they want to choose a more natural alternative in an attempt to stay fluoride free.Fluoride Facts
- Fluoride is a compound that is not naturally occurring in our body or required for proper health and function of our body.
- Fluoride is a known toxin that in the right dosage can cause serious harm and even death to humans, as well as other species.
- Fluoride can be found in natural water sources, like well water, in extremely high concentrations.
This in part is due to fluoride being a by-product from some agricultural practices. (note: fluoride added to water supplies is produced in a different method).
- Fluoride is added to the water supply in many parts of the world, and in Winnipeg, it is maintained at a level of 0.7 ppm (recently dropped from 1.0 ppm). (ppm = parts per million)
- During the manufacturing process, fluoride from the water can become concentrated into some products resulting in fluoride concentrations over 10 ppm.
- In some countries, fluoride is added to things like milk or salt rather than adding it to water.
- When fluoride is incorporated into the teeth it can help make the tooth mineral stronger and more resistant to acid attack from cavity causing bacteria.
- If fluoride is incorporated into developing teeth in too high of a concentration it can cause white and yellow spots, and in severe cases, cause the teeth to be very brittle and crumble away.
- Fluoride is not recommended for children under 6 months and should not be used when making infant formula for children in this age group.
Pros of Fluoride
- Fluoride can make the teeth stronger and more resistant to cavities, saving on future dental bills.
- Fluoride can provide an added source of minerals for helping to repair damaged teeth where cavities are still in their early stages.
- Fluoride is cheap and readily available.
Cons of Fluoride Use
- For children under age 8, most of their adult teeth are still developing. Ingestion of too much fluoride prior to age 8 can adversely and irreversibly damage the developing adult teeth.
- The younger and smaller a child is, the greater the risk of fluoride damage to the developing teeth.
- With fluoride so readily available in so many sources, and no regulations forcing manufacturers to indicate the level of fluoride in their products (when not added as an ingredient), it can be vary hard, if not impossible, to gauge the total daily doses of fluoride people receive.
- It is very difficult to fully quantify the risks of fluoride exposure, as well as its benefits as there are too many variables and biases involved to do the research required to fully assess whether fluoride should or should not be used.
Fluoride Free Alternatives
As the fluoride controversy and push for fluoride free alternatives continues, newer products are hitting the market to meet the need. As this area of dentistry is still relatively new, and dentists are advised to follow scientific research when making decisions, it is hard to fully endorse new products, or even to be aware of all the new products on the market. To further add to the complexity, many manufacturers and marketers for products will make claims that are not fully substantiated, or claims that are very misleading.
For My Family Dentist patients looking for added fluoride-free protection from cavities, we have started to use MI Paste™. This product uses Recaldent™ instead of fluoride to help re-mineralize and protect teeth.
Recaldent™ is a milk-derived protein that can help re-mineralize teeth, reduce sensitivity, reduce white spot lesions on teeth, and more. Although it is derived from milk proteins, it is lactose safe, but should be avoided by patients with a milk protein allergy and/or are sensitivity or allergic to benzoate preservatives.
Please note: We currently only use MI Paste™, which is fluoride free, and not the MI Paste Plus™, which actually contains fluoride.
Other Fluoride Free Alternatives
At My Family Dentist we are very open to other ideas and products. If you have heard of different ways and products for dealing with your specific oral health needs, and would like our help in providing that service, just let us know. We will look into the product and help guide you the best we can to ensure your oral health needs are still being met.
If you would like to know more about your options, or need help determining which option is best for you, contact us today, we would love to help in any way we can.