Fluoride. Good or Bad?
July 20, 2005 1:07 PM   Subscribe

I've been hearing alot about fluoride poisoning and such. I was wondering if anyone could give me the straight scoop on the fluoride controversy? Any Dentists here? Is fluoride good or bad overall? Any links or ref... you could point me to would be great as well
posted by nosophoros to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Saw this in the rss reader today. Good summary, has a few links.
posted by striker at 1:37 PM on July 20, 2005

link to a memo archived at the memory-hole.

The issue is: fluoride strengthens dental enamel, but aggravates the interface between gums and teeth. Fewer cavities, more gingivitis / periodontitis.

Since periodontitis is harder to treat than cavities, I tend to accept the fillings/sealing and refuse the fluoride -- then brush and floss like a maniac between visits.
posted by Crosius at 1:42 PM on July 20, 2005

Do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk... ice cream. Ice cream, children's ice cream.

You know when fluoridation first began? Nineteen hundred and forty-six. Nineteen forty-six. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.

Seriously, though, I once swallowed the fluoride treatment at the dentist and puked all over the back of my mom's car. The stuff is toxic.

posted by stopgap at 1:48 PM on July 20, 2005

From a comment in the link striker provided, a link to challenge that writer's position: Why Fluoridation Is Important, which provides some background as to how and why fluoridation came about in the first place.
posted by mcwetboy at 2:21 PM on July 20, 2005

Fluoridation is generally considered one of the greatest public health successes of the last century; it has cut the incidence of cavities by at least 50%.

Evidence is robust on the general safety of fluoride; that said, lots of stuff is introduced into our water supply that we don't know all the effects and interactions of.

The ADA has just released a 72-page document on fluoride, which you may be interested to read.

I work for the health care industry, specializing in oral health at the moment. What's been interesting to me is that over the past few years I've gotten a lot of phone calls from patients who have developed cavities despite being very careful with their oral hygiene. This is completely anecdotal, but many of them came to the conclusion that filtered water was behind it.

Mind you, these folks weren't just drinking water from bottles. If you drink water from the office cooler only and use any kind of water filter at home, you're probably stripping nearly 100% of the fluoride from your water.

Incidentally, I believe dentists generally no longer do fluoride treatments for adults, although children--especially those at risk for cavities--may get fluoride varnishes and rinses.
posted by Sully6 at 2:33 PM on July 20, 2005

I have mild fluoridosis and have never had any cavities, even though my genetics would seem to demand that I should have had several.
posted by 517 at 2:46 PM on July 20, 2005

I'm 34 and I've never had a cavity in my life. I recently saw the family dentist and asked him about which toothpaste to use. He said that according to the latest research, the only thing that really matters is that is contains fluoride.
posted by bingo at 6:07 PM on July 20, 2005

It's a communist plot. If your water is flouridated, buy bottled. Run, be scared, panic!
posted by caddis at 10:11 PM on July 20, 2005

Here is a link to a quick article of the anti variety: link

I happen to live in one of the non-fluoridated areas still left in the United States, and am thankful for it every time I've gone to the dentist. My teeth are very cavity-prone and my gums are sensitive, and I brushed religiously with regular mint and fluoride toothpaste for years. And all of those years I had cavity after cavity and horrible bleeding gums. Then I moved here and changed to non-mint, non-fluoride toothpaste, and did not get my teeth cleaned for over 5 years, and I have not had one single new cavity. And my gums are healthy now too.

I'm not a dentist or anything, but I did write an article about this for a college course, which then got published in the school newspaper. Spent a lot of time looking over both sides of the issue and decided that given all of the things that water utilities have to limit and remove from our water, it makes me suspicious that They would want to put fluoride in. Especially when the tooth decay benefits are really only applicable to children, and there is enough fluoride in toothpaste to take care of that.
posted by monopas at 11:45 PM on July 20, 2005

Monopas is not a dentist, but he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!
posted by Justinian at 1:41 AM on July 21, 2005

I am not a dentist, but my father was; more than that, one of the researchers in his department (he taught at a dental school) actually specializes in fluoride research. It would take pages to refute all of the anti-fluoride propaganda (and those who believe it generally already have their mind made up). Suffice it to say that they felt fluoride was safe and effective enough to want it used on their own children's teeth. Fluoride, like anything else, can cause problems at higher doses, but with the current popularity of bottled/filtered water there is more concern about too little fluoride than too much among the people who study these things for a living
posted by TedW at 8:50 AM on July 21, 2005

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