Fluoridated Water May Reduce The Risk of Tooth Decay

The substance fluoride is technically a fluorine ion. Fluorine is a gas, and in nature it will be found bonded with other substances, forming compounds such as calcium fluoride.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance found abundantly in the earth’s crust. Consequently, it is found in natural water supplies, usually in very low levels (well below 1 part per million). Plants naturally absorb fluoride from the soil, so small amounts of fluoride compounds are present in all our food. Fluoride is also commonly used in pesticides, so plant foods grown with pesticides will have a higher concentration of fluoride.
The highest dietary concentration of fluoride occurs in animal foods and in processed foods, especially fish. Fluoride builds up in the tissues of animals. And whenever fluoridated water is used in food production, fluoride will be concentrated in the final product. The same goes for cooking with fluoridated water.
Although it is a natural substance, fluoride is highly toxic to human beings, even more so than lead. If you were to injest a mere 2-5 grams of sodium fluoride (a common ingredient in toothpaste), you would probably die. The amount of fluoride in a typical tube of fluoride toothpaste is sufficient to kill a small child if it were consumed all at once. Fluoride toothpaste contains a much higher concentration of fluoride than what is found in nature.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced it will permit bottlers to make claims that fluoridated water may reduce the risk of tooth decay. The FDA's decision means bottlers may now claim what dentists have long known -- that optimally fluoridated water helps prevent tooth decay.
However, the Minnesota Dental Association wants to remind parents that this health claim is not intended for use on bottled water marketed for infants, for whom lesser amounts of fluoride are appropriate. "Parents who are using baby formula in the first year of their child's life want to closely evaluate the amount of fluoride in the water," said Dr. Dick Wiberg, President of the Minnesota Dental Association, whose practice is located in St. Paul.
A proper amount of fluoride is essential to help prevent tooth decay. But fluoride intake above optimal levels creates a risk for enamel (dental) fluorosis, which affects teeth during the development stage before emerging through the gums. Enamel fluorosis is not a disease but affects the way teeth look. Most cases of fluorosis result in faint white lines or streaks on tooth enamel that are not readily apparent to the affected individual or the casual observer.
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