Fluoride is a natural mineral that strengthens your teeth and helps prevent cavities. For this reason, it’s been added to community water systems in many developed countries for about 70 years. Since the inception of community water fluoridation, though, the practice has been controversial. Is fluoride bad in any way? Read on to find out.
The Origins of Fluoride Controversy
In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan started to add fluoride to its water supply – the first city in the world to do so. Soon afterward, other cities between the U.S. and Canada saw the benefits of fluoride and followed suit. However, some people argued that the government should have no role in the population’s dental health, something many people still believe. Others argued that fluoride contributes to health problems like allergies, cancer, and osteoporosis. However, many scientific studies have disproven these claims.
Why Fluoride is Safe
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has never been any scientific evidence linking fluoride to adverse health effects. In fact, research consistently shows that fluoride is safe and effective as long as it is in small amounts. And it’s not just the CDC that upholds the merits of fluoride; according to the ADA, more than 125 organizations around the world also recognize its safety and value, including the World Health Organization.
What is Fluorosis?
Fluoride is safe in appropriate doses, but like anything else, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. After decades of research, the main risk linked to fluoride overuse is dental fluorosis, a cosmetic condition that children can develop if they’re exposed to excessive fluoride when they’re too young. Affected children may have teeth with white spots or lines, and even brown or gray discoloration on their enamel in severe cases. This condition often occurs when children swallow fluoride toothpaste, which is why it’s important to supervise them while they’re brushing.
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