A (Mostly) Fluoride-Free Life
It’s that time of year again – spring trip to the dentist! Come on, it’s not so bad. What’s not to love about the “goodie bag” at the end with the oversized toothbrush and travel-sized Colgate that you’ll never use?
I’ve had decent check-ups over the past five years. No cavities. Even after months of eating ladoos and drinking sugary sweet chai in India, I still passed. Part of this may be the electric toothbrush I now use. Or maybe it’s that cavities become less common as you get older. Or maybe I have a really generous dentist. But there’s something else that’s been different too: my toothpaste.
Five years ago, in an effort to our reduce chemical-intake, my husband and I switched to a fluoride-free toothpaste brand and moved to a reverse osmosis water filtration system (eliminating fluoride from water). Not to say that fluoride causes cavities. But rather – maybe one doesn’t need fluoride to have good dental hygiene.
There’s much hype these days about cancer with seemingly everything causing cancer or some other health ailment. Add fluoride to this list. For decades, a select group of scientists has been arguing about the mal-effects of fluoride. Their concerns, all too often tossed aside as nonsense, have finally made it to the mainstream. According to a recent L.A. Times article, in 2006, the National Academy of Sciences “recommended that the [Environmental Protection Agency] lower the maximum allowable level of fluoride in drinking water…as a lifetime of drinking water at [the existing rates] could raise the risk of broken bones.” Further, the Centers for Disease Control, conducted a study showing that 41% of children ages 12 to 15 had fluorisis between 1999 and 2004. In a 1986-1987 study, only 23% had fluorosis.
Fluorosis causes stained teeth, tooth decay, and in severe cases, mental impairment. And yes, there have even been studies showing that fluoride is linked to cancer. What’s more: according to the Fluoride Action Network, fluoride found in municipal water is actually an industrial by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry – a hazardous waste they provide (even sell?) to public agencies instead of paying to dispose.
Fluoride is found in many products, not just water and toothpaste – tea and wine for example. It may not be possible to cut out all fluoride containing products, or at least all of the time, but it is good to be aware of what’s in the products you use. Here is a list of products containing fluoride.
Long story short: thanks, Dr. Dentist for the Colgate - but no thanks.