In 1962, the U.S. government decided to add fluoride to water after the U.S. Public Health Service recommended it. The original intent of fluoridated water was to strengthen tooth surfaces and potentially prevent tooth decay. The U.S. government recently decreased the amount of fluoride that is let into the water supply from 1mg/L to 0.7mg/L in hopes of preventing overexposure to fluoride.
So what does fluoride-free really mean? First we have to understand where we can find it.
Where is Fluoride?
Today, fluoride is virtually everywhere. It can be ingested through water, processed foods, tea and toothpaste. The biggest exposure to fluoride is through municipal water systems in the U.S., where nearly 70 percent of public water supplies are fluoridated. But this water fluoridation is not just used for drinking.
A large majority of processed foods also contain fluoride because they have been processed with public water. Fluoride leaches into foods (like deboned meats) during the processing procedure as well as other ingestible substances like tea, concentrate juice, flavored sports drinks,and even sodas.
Fluoride is also found in toothpaste; not surprising based on fluoride’s apparent benefit of strengthening tooth surfaces and preventing tooth decay. But with fluoride found in virtually every substance we ingest, is it really necessary in toothpaste too?
Fluoride was added to toothpaste after 1962 when public water plants began fluoridation practices. Fluoride was added to toothpaste because it could prevent decay by killing bacteria and lessening the acids produced to weaken teeth. It also has the ability to re-mineralize teeth that already show acid damage.
Too much fluoride was discovered with the exposure of dental fluorosis (discolored teeth). Since fluoridation has become common many researchers and scientists have begun to study its effects on not only teeth but also the rest of the human body. Some claim that overexposure to fluoride will only cause dental fluorosis, but others claim overexposure to fluoride could be the cause of allergies, lower IQs, Alzheimer’s and various types of cancers.
The original purpose of fluoride was to provide a very minimal level of dental healthcare for everyone who had access to public water. But there are many who claim overexposure to fluoride is now more risky than beneficial.
Possible Health Issues
Many studies have shown that fluoridated countries are not reaping extreme benefits in regards to lower tooth decay rates when compared to non-fluoridated countries. The World Health Organization stated that there was no noticeable difference in the tooth decay rates in fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries.
Studies have also shown that overexposure to fluoride can lead to toxicity that has impacts on a thyroid, bone fractures, dementia, inactive enzymes and inhibited antibodies to name a few.
Going fluoride-free with your toothpaste is a great way to rid your body of additional nutrients that can be harmful in excess. Going fluoride-free will not put you at risk for weaker teeth or more cavities.
The bottom line is this: we get plenty of fluoride from water, food and other substances that adding it to toothpaste is just unnecessary. There are plenty of other organic substances, such as botanical extract, mint and licorice, that provide the same benefits as fluoride without the inherent risk.