Per information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that is touted to reduce the risk of tooth decay. It can be found in many leading toothpaste brands, and it’s even added to drinking water as a public health measure. While there’s certainly evidence to prove that fluoride is important for a healthy smile, research has shown that too much can actually cause more problems than it prevents.
Understanding Fluoride’s Benefits
Everyone has bacteria in their mouths, and certain types of this bacteria can lead to tooth decay – especially in people who eat and drink sugary foods and refined carbs. These bacteria break down the minerals in the tooth’s surface, which is the first step in tooth decay. Fluoride works by remineralizing the surface of the tooth, which essentially keeps cavities from forming. Ultimately, this results in better oral health with a lowered risk of cavities.
Too Much Fluoride is an Issue
A recent study conducted by the NYU College of Dentistry and published in Science Signaling suggests that many people – especially children – consume far too much fluoride, which can lead to serious issues later in life. Too much fluoride can lead to a condition known as dental fluorosis, which is a discoloration of the teeth that may include lines, mottled enamel, or opaque white spots. It tends to occur when children (from birth to about nine years of age) are exposed to too much fluoride during the formation of their permanent teeth, and it significantly increases the risk for tooth decay and cavities later in life. The CDC says that roughly 41% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 have signs of the condition.
How Much Do You Really Need?
When it comes to the fluoride in your drinking water, the American Dental Association recommends 0.7 parts fluoride for every million parts of water, and most water facilities follow this guidance. However, it’s important to note that drinking water, toothpaste, fruit juices, food, and even pesticides (as well as other sources) contain fluoride, as well, which can create serious issues, especially for children.
Switch to Fluoride-Free Toothpaste
There are several ways to reduce the amount of fluoride you consume, but one of the simplest (and most eco-friendly) involves switching your usual toothpaste for a more natural and fluoride-free option. WooBamboo’s 98% naturally-derived fluoride-free toothpaste contains diatomaceous earth, which is a natural polishing agent that helps to keep your teeth fresh and clean, but doesn’t lead to dental fluorosis. It contains bamboo and green tea extracts as well as Xylitol and stevia for sweetening, which makes it a tasty and clean alternative to your current brand.
Dental fluorosis can cause plenty of issues in adulthood, but the best time to fight it is during childhood. Even as an adult, making the switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste can help prevent worsening discoloration while still providing you ample protection against cavities and tooth decay.