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Dentists Blame Bottled Water For Low Fluoride Levels

Dentists Blame Bottled Water For Low Fluoride Levels

fluorosis or mottled teeth200Have you seen the news story Dentists Blame Bottled Water For Low Fluoride Levels where a purported expert makes a comment that makes you laugh out loud?  That happened to me just the other day. It also made me sad because she (the expert dentist) was commenting about a pretty serious topic and, quite frankly, misleading every person who read that article.

I know those are strong words and I open myself up for people to criticize me in return. Let me explain why I said what I said and please use your own judgment to see what you think afterward.

If you really understand the point I’m making at the end, you’ll want to pass this article on to EVERY woman who is having or will have a baby… EVERY MOTHER!

The other day we posted an article on our Facebook page about dentists blame bottled water water for less fluoride getting to the public. We’re all the “public” so we might be concerned.  Some of us “public” think fluoride is an evil poison and want to avoid it at all costs. Others of us “public” think fluoride is a benefit. To get a little perspective on these opposing ideas, check out the article we wrote previously.

For today’s comments I’m going to focus on the idea in the article that fluoride in drinking water can be beneficial to prevent tooth decay or cavities.  This is because fluoride is incorporated into the tooth during the calcification phase of its development.  There’s no doubt that fluoride in drinking water has an influence,  In areas where there are high natural fluoride levels in the community water supply, the community as a whole have far fewer cavities than populations where water fluoride levels are not so high.

There can be a downside, however.  Where the fluoride levels are excessively high, mottling of the teeth occurs (stains and deformations) so they look ugly, but again, those people have far fewer cavities than those without high fluoride levels in the water.  The U.S. Public Health Service recommends a concentration from 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L or parts per million (ppm) in drinking water.  That is supposedly the optimal dose to prevent cavities and avoid mottling.

But doesn’t dosage depend on how much of that water you ingest?

The article we posted argued that because more people are drinking bottled water, they are not getting enough fluoride from that source. This is such a big topic with so many offshoot branches that we can’t handle it all in one blog post, but I promise I will come back and talk about all of these tangential issues in future posts.

Here was the funny part. Our dentist expert, unless she was misquoted in the article, recommended children between the ages of six and 14 particularly needed fluoride in their bodies during tooth development so they wouldn’t be prone to cavities for the rest of their life. The idea is that fluoride is built into the tooth during its formation (calcification) to make it more resistant to cavities.

The only parts of your teeth that are prone to cavities are the parts you can see above the gum line (in a healthy mouth without gum disease, I might add). We call that the crown of the tooth. So if were going to have fluoride Incorporated into the tooth during development, it’s the crown part of the tooth that really matters.

Tooth Development TableAnyone can go see the human tooth development timeline on Wikipedia. I know not everyone is excited about seeing big tables like this, but let’s talk only about the permanent teeth and see if we can highlight the parts that make my point.  Notice there are eight different types of teeth.

The first molar is the biggest chewing tooth in your mouth and begins to calcify or harden at birth. This is the very time where fluoride being incorporated in the developing tooth would supposedly give you protection against cavities for life. Do you know anyone who gives their newborn infant tap water so they can get the fluoride into their developing tooth? Not even pediatricians recommend this.

If you look at the line that says “Initial calcification” you’ll see that FOUR out of the eight types of teeth begin to calcify before you’re one year old.  ONLY the third molar (your wisdom teeth) begins to calcify after age six.

If you look on the line that says “Crown completed” you’ll see that FOUR out of the eight types of teeth have totally completed the calcification of the crown by age 6.

Do you see the problem?  If we follow the “expert” recommendation of making sure children between ages 6 to 14 get adequate fluoride intake to protect them against cavities for life… we totally missed the window of opportunity for almost every tooth in the head except the wisdom teeth.  That was one of the the sadly laughable parts of that article.

Wow, I said all that just to make that point, but the point is VERY important.  Why?  Because you only get one shot at development in your whole life.  If you believe that ingestion of fluoride (via drinking water or otherwise) will make a difference in the development of the teeth to make them more resistant to cavities, then the time to act on that is from birth to about age 8 or 9 for all teeth except the wisdom teeth (up to age 16 if you want to include the wisdom teeth).

And by the way, the argument is NOT that strong that fluoride in drinking water protects against cavities AFTER the teeth are developed.  Fluoride ingestion for helping protect your teeth against cavities is fairly irrelevant after age 16.  Local fluoride on the outside of the crowns of the teeth is definitely more beneficial there… in other words, use fluoridated toothpaste.  That’s my recommendation based on all the research and my almost 2 decades of clinical practice.

I’ll give some more ideas in part 2.  There’s more to the Dentists Blame Bottled Water article than meets the eye.

 

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