Fluoridated Water: Myths And Facts About Fluoride (And How It Protects Dental Health In Children)
When people first come to know that our tap water is artificially fluoridated in the United States, they are naturally concerned. Why fluoride? Why didn’t we know of it sooner? What are we not being told? What is really the agenda here?
Conspiracy theories and myths surrounding fluoride are all over the internet, and results from a simple Google search can disconcert even the most logical of Americans about why the government is “manipulating” our tap water, forcing us to consume fluoride whether we want to or not.
These fears are without any basis at all. In this article, we’ll attempt to put all the misinformation to rest, by busting myths about fluoride and presenting you with the real facts.
Myth # 1: Fluoride is dangerous for children
On the contrary, children benefit the most from consumption of fluoride in controlled amounts. Fluoride is a mineral that is found in water, soil and many of our foods. It is an agent that improves dental health and prevents cavities, which is why toothpastes and mouthwashes are fortified with it.
In industrialized countries like the United States, 60-90% of school-going children suffer from dental health issues, and fluoride is the first line of defense that is approved by the public health department when fluoridating tap water.
Fluoride helps to:
- Remineralize and rebuild tooth enamel that has weakened.
- Reduce the rate at which minerals are leached out of tooth enamel.
- Fight against tooth decay at an early age.
- Reduce growth of harmful acids from oral bacteria that can compromise the dental foundation of children and cause chronic dental issues as they grow into adulthood.
In fact, studies have shown that children who live in areas with fluoridated water have fewer cavities than those who do not. All teeth cleaning products for kids that contain fluoride are aimed at tackling oral health problems at the root.
Myth # 2: Fluoride does not have any impact on oral health
Studies have shown that fluoride can reduce the incidence of tooth decay by up to 25%.
Myth # 3: Children develop fluorosis if they drink fluoridated water
Again, not true. Fluorosis is a condition that results from exposure to too much fluoride, and it can only occur if a child is exposed to high amounts of it. The level of fluoride in public drinking water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so there is no fear of overexposure to the agent.
Indeed, there may be conditions that pose a risk of developing fluorosis, such as living in areas with naturally occurring, high levels of fluoride in the environment, but such conditions do not impact the population at large. If you are concerned, please discuss this with Dr. Duffy about options and possibly doing a water analysis.
Myth # 4: Fluoridated water is an unnecessary precaution because we get fluoride in toothpaste
Dental products often contain fluoride but, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that amount is not sufficient to provide reasonable protection against tooth decay.
Myth # 5: Fluoridating water is expensive and wasteful of taxpayer money
Fluoridating water is very affordable, and the benefits far outweigh the costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fluoridating water costs an average of just $0.50 per person per year. Compare this to the cost of treating dental cavities, which can range from $50 to $200 per cavity.
Myth # 6: While the United States has fluoridated water, other developed countries (like in Europe) do not, which proves it is not necessary
It is true that many European countries do not fluoridate their water. But they use something else instead, called salt fluoridation. Salt fluoridation means that fluoride is added to table salt to make sure people have an easy consumable source (like our water) to the mineral. There are no known health risks associated with salt fluoridation, and it is safe for both children and adults.
Myth # 7: Drinking fluoridated water will cause cancer
It has been scientifically proven that drinking fluoridated water will not cause cancer. In fact, studies have shown that fluoridated water can actually help reduce the risk of cancer.
One study, published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control, found that people who live in areas with fluoridated water have a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than those who do not drink fluoridated water.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that people who drink fluoridated water have a lower risk of dying from bladder cancer than those who do not drink fluoridated water.
The bottom line is that there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that drinking fluoridated water causes cancer. In fact, the opposite may be true - drinking fluoridated water may actually help reduce your risk of developing it.
Myth # 8: Drinking fluoridated water will cause autism
This claim has been circulating online for several years and has gained traction among some parents of autistic children. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in water and is added to public water supplies to prevent tooth decay. It has been used in dentistry for over 50 years and is considered safe and effective.
Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurodevelopmental anomaly that has a genetic basis. The cause of autism is not fully understood, but there is no evidence that fluoride plays any role in the development of this condition.
We hope we have managed to dispel some of the myths circulating about fluoride in this article and eased any concerns you may have as a parent about fluoridated tap water for your children.
Fluoridated tap water is a public service that has far reaching benefits when it comes to the dental health of the American population. It is the easiest way to deliver that to your children, even as you’re being proactive about their dental health and seeking the advice of specialized pediatric dentists near you to ensure their teeth are healthy and cavity-free.