Please research the health consequences of using a fluoride toothpaste

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Please research the health consequences of using a fluoride toothpaste

Introduction

In an attempt to revise the previous submission, this brief will discuss the health effects of fluoride use in toothpaste by citing more academically rigorous sources, such as papers published by the National Institute of Health. Generally speaking, fluoride is perfectly acceptable as a topical solution but can be poisonous if enough is ingested within a small period of time. Thus, as long as you don't make a habit of ingesting your toothpaste in great amounts you should be fine with whatever product you're using.

The Fluoride consensus

We found a meta-review published by the National Institute of Health which compiled and summarized research on the health effects of fluoride use. The NIH claims that caries, or cavities, are still a prevalent dental health issue, one which fluoride tackles most effectively.

Fluoride occurs naturally and thus is consumed by breathing it in or ingesting something with fluoride. Natural bodies of water all contain fluoride as well, though freshwater contains vastly less than seawater (0.01 ppm to 0.3 ppm versus 1.2 to 1.5 ppm in seawater). Despite this prevalence, we often take in small doses of fluoride rather than large amounts. Meat, fish, cereal, ground meat, canned anchovies, green and black tea, and wine are some examples of foods that often contain fluoride. Fluoridated water, salt, and milk are the most common routes of consumption.

In the body, 99% of fluoride is concentrated in bones and 1% is stored in soft tissue; some fluoride is released via urine. Placentas can absorb fluoride, but it actually acts as a barrier if concentration gets too high. Likewise, a mother's milk contains fluoride but the amount is often very little and insignificant.

Fluoride's benefit comes from its topical use. Fluoride in the saliva helps prevent cavities. Tooth enamel naturally demineralizes due to bacterial responses to what we eat. That demineralization can lead to cavities over time. Fluoride's presence in saliva impedes that process and helps enamel remineralize. Thus, as long as doses of fluoride aren't constantly consumed over a period of time, fluoride is safe and effective. Prescription products such as Prevident contain much more fluoride than normal toothpaste but is also considered safe as long as users don't continually swallow it.

Fluoride toxicity

Our lives are filled with substances that if consumed beyond moderation become poisonous; fluoride is one of those substances. Used correctly, fluoride is beneficial and part of a modernized life. One problem of over consumption is fluorosis. Fluorosis affects children under the age of eight whereas older kids are immune to it. Fluorosis is a discoloring of teeth that occurs if too much fluoride is consumed under the age of eight. The affects of it are primarily aesthetic.

Overconsuming fluoride can lead to death. However, a person would need to consume an extreme amount of fluoride, such as 75ml of toothpaste for a child or eating 100 fluoride pills. Fluoride poisoning is rather rare in modern times and occurs due to unsupervised use of fluoride containing products, such as toothpastes, by children.

Counter-Narratives

The Fluoride Action Network uses sources from the FDA to argue against and warn consumers against what they see as the dangers of fluoride. Citing from the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, the writers note that children often swallow more toothpaste than intended. Packaging warns against swallowing toothpaste, but toothpaste is often branded in colors designed to appeal to children and flavors that are candy-like. The writers also note that in 1997 the FDA placed a poison control warning on toothpastes advising parents to keep toothpastes out of the reach of children. Since issuing the warning, emergency room calls and poisoning cases have skyrocketed.

Conclusion

Fluoride can be dangerous, that much is true. Fluoride can be toxic to children and adults with kids most at risk. However, one needs to consider the costs and benefits of using or getting rid of fluoride. Fluoride in water, toothpastes, salt, and milk is certainly one of our major public health achievements. Like vitamin C or iodine in salt, it's an accomplishment that has stopped health crises. Scientific sources note that fluoride can be dangerous but only if it is misused. Children need to be supervised and parents must make sure they don't swallow toothpastes.
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