Most toothpastes and mouth rinses contain fluoride at a rate of 550-1500ppm (parts per million). This is because fluoride exerts a well-documented “topical effect” which helps remineralise tooth enamel. A more concentrated version of topical fluoride is even more successful at remineralising enamel when applied by dentist, especially immediately after a professional clean. Fluoridated water is believed to reduce tooth decay rates.
It is well established that dental fluorosis (discolored and or poorly mineralized teeth) can occur when children ingest too much fluoride. This is why children’s toothpaste has a reduced concentration of ﬂuoride compared to adult toothpaste.
Fluoridated water has only a minor topical action due to its low concentration, and as such it has little or no effect in reducing tooth decay rates (1). Additionally, while the topical fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses may reduce decay rates, systemic consumption of fluoride has very little effect on decay rates (2).
World Health Organization (WHO) data suggests that DMFT (Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth) rates in 12 year olds has fallen regardless of water fluoridation since the 1970’s
Figure 1. DMFT rates failing for 12 years olds in both non-fluoridated and fluridated countries.(WHO)
It has also been suggested that fluoride competes with iodine in the thyroid gland (3-6) and that fluoride can potentially be toxic to multiple organ systems (7-41). Ingestion of fluoride poses potential health risks (42-59).
At Heal Dental Care we believe in informed choices and education. Tooth decay occurs when people have poor nutrition, excess carbohydrates and poor oral hygiene (among other factors). We do not routinely use fluoride gel or varnish because in our opinion, fluoride is a medicine. We believe it should only be prescribed temporarily to individuals with a moderate to severe risk of developing decay, while the real long-term solution to decay involves signiﬁcant lifestyle changes.
Artificial fluoride products should not be ingested. We recognize that this is very difficult to achieve when dentists apply high concentration fluoride gels or varnishes and so urge caution when used.
Our preference would be that public money be spent promoting healthy lifestyle choices and community oral health promotion, rather than fluoridating water supplies. Also at the individual level we prefer to work with guests on improving saliva quality and reducing sugar cravings to help reduce decay risk. Furthermore, we work alongside naturopaths and holistic GPs to help restore mineral imbalances which can be linked to sugar cravings.
Most importantly, we value informed consent and urge you to seek a personal consultation of you have any questions about your dental health. We respect your concerns and questions and want to support you to make decisions which are right for you and your individual circumstances.