What is Fluoride, and Why Is It In My Tap Water?
Fluoride is a very polarizing topic in the health and wellness world. It’s in our toothpaste and our tap water. We’re told it’s good for our health. But a lot of people are really against fluoride. They say we get too much of it, that it’s messing with our internal balances. Avoid it at all costs.
So what’s the truth? Let’s figure it out.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral in the earth’s crust and in some foods and water supplies. It helps to grow bones and teeth, and to harden the enamel on our teeth. It does this in part by remineralizing the inside of your mouth. We produce an acidic saliva to get the digestion process started. But the acidity can also dissolve the calcium and phosphorous under the surface of our teeth.
When we’re not eating, we remineralize; we produce less acidic saliva and we are able to replenish the calcium and phosphorous. When fluoride is present during that remineralization, the calcium and phosphorus are harder than they would be otherwise. This helps to strengthen our teeth and prevent wearing away of those minerals the next time we eat.
Why is it in our water?
Fluoride has been used in tap water since the 1930s. Studies showed that people who grew up drinking naturally fluoridated water developed far fewer cavities than those who lived in areas without it.
But it was during a time when dental care wasn’t as advanced as it is now, and when fewer people had access to that care. Now our teeth are generally better than they were, but we’re still consuming as much of the mineral as we were then. Do we still need it? And what happens if we ingest too much?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2014 that two thirds of the population of the United States has fluoridated public water. It’s added with an average concentration of 1 part per million, or 1 milligram per litre.
In 2015, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued a recommendation for an across-the-board level of 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water. This was a change from the guidelines set out in 1962, which allowed for levels up to 1.2 ppm.
The change was because most people in the United States have access to more sources of fluoride than they did when the guidelines were first put in place.
“The adjustment in amount is more representative of the current needs of the population. Due to the increased use and accessibility of other fluoride sources (toothpaste, mouth rinse, etc.) and other improvements in oral health care, these new recommendations have been made,” Alice Lee, a pediatric dentist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York told Live Science.
Am I getting too much?
Too much fluoride can cause a condition called fluorosis. Fluorosis can cause discoloration and stains on the teeth. In more extreme cases can result in irregular surface areas on the teeth and actual pits in the teeth. Fluorosis is widespread in the United States, though most cases are mild. In the mild cases, fluorosis can present as lacy white markings on the teeth that only dentists can see. But the difference between a fluoride intake that’s going to help support strong teeth and one that will stain your teeth is very small. And when any substance put into both your toothpaste and your water in amounts that you don’t get to control, that can be cause for concern.
And not all fluorosis symptoms are so mild. The World Health Organization reports, “Excessive fluoride intake usually occurs through the consumption of ground water naturally rich in fluoride, or crops that take up fluoride and are irrigated with this water. Such exposure may lead to crippling skeletal fluorosis, which is associated with osteosclerosis, calcification of tendons and ligaments and bone deformities.”
The report goes on: too-high fluoride concentrations in drinking water have caused tens of millions of dental and skeletal cases world-wide.
So what’s the verdict?
It’s kind of a tossup. We probably don’t need the amount of fluoride we get. But generally speaking it’s not doing us too much harm, and it’s helping to keep our teeth cavity-free. Do your research. Is your local water fluoridated? Is your toothpaste fluoride-full? Knowledge is power, my friends.
Of course, the other thing we always encourage is balance in all things inside the garden that is your body and your gut. We’re also getting way more of another mineral that we don’t need: calcium. Calcium is another mineral that’s known as being great for teeth and bones, and that therefore gets added to everything.
The thing about minerals is when you’re getting too much of one thing, you’re not getting enough of the rest. It’s so important to have a balance within your body, a rich mixture of many different minerals, rather than just having one or two that overtake and can start to do more harm than good.
People worry a lot about fluoride. But fluoride isn’t your #1 enemy when it comes to unwanted, excess amounts of minerals in your drinking water and food. There is a greater problem hiding in plain sight. A mineral that the government, and multinational food manufacturers put in everything. A mineral that is actually robbing your health in a serious way.
Click that link. You’ll see an article that reveals the #1 mineral you should be worried about. Because while fluoride may not be as bad as a few people think, the mineral I’m referring to is worse than everybody thinks. See for yourself. You probably think this mineral is healthy. And it is. But not the amount we’re ingesting.
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