July 23rd, 2024

Viva Vitality: Fluoride myths busted

By Kaleigh Southwell on June 14, 2024.

There are many myths regarding fluoride consumption, particularly in terms of fluoridated water and toothpaste usage. Unfortunately, increased internet and social media use has allowed a lot of misinformation to circle on this topic – misinformation that is negative, disconcerting and not based on scientific evidence. This is why it is extremely important for people to educate themselves and separate the myths from the facts!

Myth: Fluoride will cause fluorosis (white spots on teeth)

Fact: Fluorosis only occurs when a person takes in extremely high amounts of fluoride and can only occur during our teeth forming years. In Canada, the optimal level of fluoride in water is 0.7 milligrams per litre, which also takes into consideration the fluoride that people are getting from other sources, such as toothpaste. Fluoridated toothpaste and water work together to provide you with the maximum protection against tooth decay.

Myth: Fluoride is poisonous

Fact: Anything and everything taken at extremely high levels can be harmful. Drinking fluoridated water, using fluoridated toothpaste, and getting professional topical fluoride applications within the recommended and controlled amount has only proven to help, not harm, your health or teeth.

Myth: It’s expensive to fluoridate water

Fact: Adding fluoride to the water is considered one of the least expensive ways to prevent tooth decay and is much more cost effective than treating tooth decay. A Calgary study by James A. Dickinson noted that eight years after water fluoridation ended, the need for intravenous antibiotic therapy by children to avoid death by infection rose 700 per cent at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, and cavities in teeth were larger and more numerous. Following the release of these findings, the City of Calgary voted to add fluoride back into the water.

Myth: Fluoride is linked to cancer, autism and other serious health problems

Fact: There is zero evidence that indicates the risk of autism, cancer, heart disease or diabetes being elevated because of fluoride. Fluoride actually aids in the treatment of most of these health conditions. For example, radiation therapy patients are often prescribed at home topical fluoride treatments to reduce their risk of decay.

How can you use fluoride safely and efficiently?

– Use the recommended amount of fluoride toothpaste – a grain of rice size amount for anyone under the age of three, and a pea size amount for three years and older.

– Drink straight from the tap – most bottled and distilled water do not contain fluoride.

– Opt-in for topical fluoride – say yes to the fluoride treatment at your annual dental checkups.

For more information and recommendations on oral health or fluoride, visit http://www.ahs.ca/oralhealth

Kaleigh Southwell is a registered dental hygienist with the Alberta Health Services Oral Health Program

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