The Fluoride Debate
Maybe one of the hardest things to accept, is that fluoride may not be all that it is cracked up to be. Since childhood, most of us remember being told of the miracle of fluoride. No more tooth decay we were told! To oppose such a wonder drug would be unthinkable. Yet, that is exactly what I am asking you to consider. And, as always, I am asking you to consider the FACTS.
There is no debate about the fact that in its pure state, fluoride is a powerful poison. It is, in fact, a waste product of the aluminum industry. So how did the whole notion of fluoridation ever become popular? Well, back in the early 50's, there was an extensive study done on the effectiveness of fluoride. After a 3-year period, the community that was fluoridated had a 65% reduction in the DMFT (Decayed, Missing & Filled Teeth)! It was miraculous! Fluoride was touted as the substance that would eliminate decay in our lifetime. How could anyone in their right mind oppose fluoride? But, wait a minute - in that 3-year study, what happened in the community that was NOT fluoridated? Believe it or not, there was an IDENTICAL reduction in the DMFT! (NOTE: I believe that it was an improvement in patient education on what causes decay - television commercials, the introduction of more dental hygiene products and the promotion of regular dental exam visits - that was the more important contributor to the reduction in the rate of decay.)
Numerous studies, showing fluoridation to be an ineffective means of controlling tooth decay, are causing many communities to rethink and reverse their position on fluoride.
The Facts on Fluoride
Originally water was fluoridated with SODIUM fluoride (from ALCOA). Today, SILICA fluoride is used in 90% of communities that fluoridate water. SILICA fluoride is much more toxic than SODIUM fluoride and HAS NEVER BEEN STUDIED FOR SAFETY BY THE FDA! (NOTE: There is hope though, I recently attended a lecture by Dr. Roger Masters of Dartmouth University, who, by testifying in front of a committee and presenting his long term studies, has been able to convince the FDA to do further research on Silica fluoride).
Now, with all that being said, there is a caveat: Yes, it is true, that fluoride does make the surface of the teeth more resistant to acid. The question is, at what expense? Proper dental hygiene and diet play a much more important role in the prevention of decay. So what we try to do in our office is to evaluate each guest individually.
There may be situations (severe, unexplained decay) where short term use of fluoride is indicated and may be prescribed to get caries under control. Then, once oral hygiene is optimal, dental decay is eliminated (by Dr. Golab restoring your teeth to health), fluoride is of no use at that point.
So in my opinion, though I am against mass fluoridation, there are some specific, individual, short term uses for doctor prescribed fluoride.