Does Fluoride Cause Spotted Teeth?
In the early 1950’s concerns about dental health among children led to controversy when it was proposed that fluoride be added to drinking water. In Grand Rapids, Michigan fluoride was added to the drinking water and studies six years later found a dramatic decline in tooth decay among the children there. The Surgeon General endorsed water fluoridation and many communities responded by fluoridating city water supplies. Dentists joined in supporting this pronouncement.
In 1955, toothpaste manufacturers jumped on the fluoride bandwagon and America began to see an array of “Look, Mom, no cavities” commercials. Today, fluoride is being added to some bottled waters and to sodas. There are fluoride supplements available for children. Mouthwash contains fluoride.
Maybe young children are getting too much of a good thing. Federal health officials believe that Americans are getting too much of the chemical. Last week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to lower the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water for the first time since the 1950’s.
Why is that? They have discovered spotting and streaking on the teeth of about 40% of teenagers. Since the condition has been seen increasing in the last thirty years, officials looked to additional research studies to evaluate the problems. What they found in reviewing research by The Environmental Protection Agency is that long-term intake of fluoride can increase the risk of bone deformities which can cripple people. Greater risks of broken bones were also suspected.
Seventy years ago it appeared that people whose water and soil contained higher levels of fluoride had fewer cavities. However, a recent report by The National Academy of Sciences found that the serious fluoridosis can occur when the chemical is added to water at the level of two parts per million. Additionally, they found that with intake at the level of four parts per million could raise the incidence of bone fractures.
Whether or not water fluoridation is beneficial has been controversial for decades. Some point to the statistics in European countries where fluoride is seldom added to the water supplies. Some say water fluoridation is forcing medicine on us.
What is clear in light of recent studies is that the dental danger occurs mostly to young children who take in high amounts of fluoride before their permanent teeth have developed and cut through. Dentists agree that the damage seen in adolescents today can be covered by tooth whitening preparations.
What remains to be seen? How will the governmental agencies’ recommendations impact change? Will communities alter their water fluoridation policies? Are we destined to experience more bone abnormalities and fractures? What will the next chapter in the fluoridation saga reveal?