You need to brush your teeth… but do you really need fluoride?

Unless you’re actually living in Greenland and eating an authentic Inuit Diet, chances are some of the things you’re eating are going to leave some sort of residue on your teeth that would make brushing them regularly the best bet to ensure a mouthful of cavity-free, healthy choppers.

It’s not limited to those following the Standard American Diet, high in processed foods, refined grains and white sugar.

Even the cleanest Paleo devotee is likely to have something such as fresh fruit, baked yams or coconut water, all of which, even though all are natural and can be quite a healthy part of a balanced eating regime, still contain sugars which, when left on the teeth, can lead to plaque build up and decay (1).

But just how important is what substance you clean your teeth with?  

In other words, how do we know if we really need a fluoride toothpaste, as many a dentist will recommend versus something simpler, such as a DIY blend made of baking soda, coconut oil and perhaps an essential oil, such as coconut?

The American Dental Association recommends and recognizes the “use of fluoride and community water fluoridation as safe and effective in preventing tooth decay for both children and adults.” (2)

We can probably all recall being given a sample of one of the popular toothpaste brands at our last dental check up, which we’ve all likely used without much attention to what’s in the little tube, yours truly included.

However, incorporating fluoride into our bodies isn’t necessarily something that’s as safe as we’d like it to be… and possibly not even necessary.

Even within the professional dental community, there are experts who are not only not recommending using it, they’re recommending not to do so.

The risk of fluoride to health is something that everyone needs to understand (3).  Even though fluoride may reduce tooth decay in some people applied topically, it is toxic to the rest of the body, so it is likely to create health problems, especially when ingested (as in fluoridated drinking water, fluoride-containing toothpaste, and fluoride-containing oral rinses).

Take a moment here and go take a peek at your toothpaste tube; notice if you see a warning stating, “if more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away”.

Fluoride is not a nutrient for our teeth. We don’t need fluoride to prevent tooth decay, nor do we develop tooth decay because we are deficient in fluoride. It is well established that fluoride has no nutritional value for the human body.

Another interesting bit of trivia: Fluoride is the only chemical added to public water supplies intended to treat the people drinking it and not the water itself (4).

Interestingly, the CDC states, “Community water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the amount of fluoride in drinking water to a level recommended for preventing tooth decay.”

Yet, while it’s true that when applied topically to teeth, fluoride can have a superficial effect on reducing cavities in a significant number of people, dietary consumption of flouride, as in drinking from a flouridated water supply, has been shown to be of no significant value in reducing the incidence or severity of cavities. 

So if we don’t actually need it, and there are potential risks involved to other system’s in our bodies, it may well be worth further consideration to investigate further whether you actually need to be using it on yourself… or on your children.

Check with your dentist and perhaps, go one step further and do some independent research to learn how and why making your own concoction at home may be all you need to keep your teeth clean, strong and healthy… and risk free!