Fluoridation is the act of adjusting fluoride levels in the water, which is done mainly for the cause of reducing tooth decay. It has also been regarded that water fluoridation was one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. However, the internet will yield countless articles opposing these claims. The consensus of the dissenters is that fluoride is harmful to one’s health.
Fluoride in general is a quite common natural compound. Its base element is fluorine. It’s found everywhere in nature including the food you eat and contrary to what many people think, even in the untreated water you drink. For a healthy adult, about 50% of the fluoride consumed is retained by calcified tissues, the other half is excreted in the urine. In children, almost 80% is consumed by calcified tissues. The reason for this can be that a child’s body is still growing, and relatively rapidly. The older you get, the lesser fluoride your body needs per unit mass, so the excretion of fluoride is more when compared to retention.
What is the Recommended Intake of Fluoride?
This depends on your age. All nutrients needed are based on an amount proportional to your mass (your weight), the older you get, the more per day is required. For example, infants aged 0-6 months need about 0.01 mg/day. At 4-8 years of age, you need about 1 mg/day and at 9-13 years you need about 2 mg/day. Over the age of 19, the amount is around 4 mg/day for men and 3 mg/day for women.
We’ve already mentioned before in the article that fluoride is found almost everywhere, including your food. The question we must as is, if fluoride is already present in so many things, and somehow of the others, we take it in daily, why did they see the need to start adding it to water?
The answer is that studies have shown that in areas where water isn’t fluorinated, the average daily intake for adults was 0.3-1 mg/day, far less than the recommended intake for optimal health for adults.
How does Fluoride Prevent Tooth Decay?
Cavities, known are dental caries, begin when bacteria start propagating in the small cracks and crevices of your teeth. The plaque that naturally builds up, contains a significant amount of these microbes. The fluoride that you consume, when it is placed on your teeth, combines with plaque fluid present in your mouth and creates a layer on your teeth called fluoridated hydroxyapatite (FHA). FHA limits the uptake of sugar by bacteria and reduces the amount of acid they produce. This prevents the corrosion of your enamel.
Fluoride does not cure cavities, more specifically it delays their production of them. It requires frequent application throughout your life. This is needed to achieve its protective effects. Adding it to the water you drink proves a fantastic way to accomplish repeated exposure.
What are the Drawbacks?
Fortunately, contrary to many somewhat suspect interpretations of the results of the studies, to date no study has definitively proved any major harmful effects of this. As of now, there are two known complications from taking in too much fluoride, skeletal fluorosis, and enamel fluorosis.
Minor enamel fluorosis might show striations on your tooth enamel that will tend to become white opaque patches. More severe cases might cause changes to your tooth color. Functionally enamel fluorosis does not appear to have any negative health effects.
When talking about the skeletal problems that can be associated with too much fluoride, skeletal fluorosis can be very exhausting. Skeletal fluorosis can be detected using an X-ray. It will show a noticeable increase in your bone mass even before you begin having visible symptoms. We can also say the amount of skeletal fluorosis is directly related to the duration and amount of your fluoride exposure.
With the progress in modern dentistry and the fact that fluoride is put in many products used regularly by most people anyway, like toothpaste, the question of whether the government should continue water fluoridisation is a good one. According to our research, at present, there aren’t many studies that analyze cavity rates connected to exposure to all major sources of fluoridation in present time. Until all that happens, the benefit to the majority will always outweigh the potential problems associated with the minority.