This morning I received an excellent question from a potential patient who lives 150 miles from Blodgett Dental Care, my Portland dental practice. She was told by her current dentist that,
“You have demineralization of your teeth. You need fluoride.”
In my estimation, there are at least two things wrong with this “professional opinion” that I would like to discuss. This is an important topic because I think many people frequently receive the same misinformed advice.
We have all heard the traditional dogma:
- “Fluoride is the best thing for your teeth!”
- ”Fluoride in the water will prevent cavities!”
- “Fluoride is totally safe.”
Probably the same people who buy into these ideas are the same ones who believe that putting mercury fillings in your mouth is safe, too!
A fluoride-free reservoir on Mt. Tabor in Portland, OR
If these statements about fluoride are true, then answer me this:
“Why are people in the majority of cities in the United States (where water fluoridation DOES occur, unlike Portland, OR where I live) still experiencing tooth decay?”
Watch Our Daily Dose
This short documentary will change the way you think about fluoridation. You’ll learn about the history of fluoride, its negative health effects, and much more. It really is eye-opening.
Did You Know: In the 1940’s, fluoride was used to enrich uranium for use in atomic bombs (is that something you want in your body?).
The Simple Truth About Fluoride
It’s simple. The truth is that fluoride is absolutely NOT the answer. Fluoride is not a panacea for decay. In fact, the potential harm caused by fluoride may outweigh any benefits it might have.
Here are some of the things we know about fluoride today that we didn’t know when it started being added to municipal water supplies in the 1950’s:
- There is no physiological need for fluoride in our bodies.
- The ingestion of fluoride throughout a person’s life has an epigenetic influence on their growth and development.
- Not only does the amount of fluoride exposure influence its negative physiologic effects, but the timing of exposure during a person’s growth and development does as well.
- Fluoride can be absorbed through the placenta and into a baby’s body before birth.
- The level of fluorosis (mis-formed enamel) has been steadily increasing since the 1950’s.
The list of negative effects goes on and on.
What is Demineralization?
You may be wondering, what exactly is demineralization?
As your mouth is exposed to too much acid (in the form of foods you eat or beverages you drink), small amounts of the minerals that strengthen the enamel start to fall out of the tooth. This is known as demineralization.
The longer that your mouth is exposed to high levels of acidity, the more mineral that comes out of your teeth. If too much mineral comes out and the crystalline structure that makes up the enamel becomes weakened, a cavity will form. Generally speaking, the length of time that it takes for your tooth’s enamel surface to go from healthy to having a cavity can take anywhere from many months to many years. It is NOT an overnight process!
As a dentist, I can spot enamel surfaces with signs of demineralization using dental x-rays. But what can be done? Because demineralization is a slow process, reversing it also requires a slow, steady and thoughtful approach.
Fluoride Can Actually Prevent Remineralization
Research has shown that the application of high doses of fluoride– like toothpaste with 5000 parts per million of fluoride– form a dense mineral coating on the outside of the tooth’s enamel surface. This coating then acts as a barrier and can keep minerals from reentering the enamel crystals. Therefore, although fluoride can coat the demineralized enamel surface, it can also prevent true remineralization.
A Slow & Steady Approach to Whole Body Health
Let’s take a minute to think about health in general. Imagine someone who gains an extra 50 pounds over 10 years. Can they lose that extra weight safely and in a healthy way in just a few weeks? Of course not.
In order to get this person back to a physiologically healthy state, the process of getting back to true health will likely take years of diet and lifestyle changes. These holistic changes tend to be long-lasting and safer for people.
Those who try “crash dieting” almost never achieve true health. Instead, they tend to gain more weight back in the process.
All health is a balance! The body is designed to maintain its own health, provided we give it the natural foods and support that were naturally occurring on the planet. However, much of what we are exposed to in our “modern lifestyle”– fast food, processed food, bottled beverages of all sorts– push us away from our healthy state.
Fluoride Is Not the Answer
The “fluoride is the answer” approach to dentistry is no different than the “take this pill” approach to modern medicine or the “crash diet” approach to weight loss.
A pill is not the answer to diabetes, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol and so many other “diseases”. It’s just an easy answer given that allows healthcare professionals to avoid thinking deeply about their patients’ health. It also helps grow the pharmaceutical industry.
Your Health Is Your Responsibility
Many people don’t realize that they will have to take personal responsibility and choose (and commit to) a lifestyle that promotes all-around good health. It is easier to take a pill (or use a toothpaste) that gives us the illusion that we are doing something to help our health.
But ultimately, unhealthy choices will ALWAYS lead us away from health, not toward it.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
Are you interested in learning more about how you can take a holistic approach to your dental health (and overall whole-body health)? Learn about my approach to restorative dentistry or contact my office to schedule your first appointment. I’ll talk with you and we can discuss your health goals and help you achieve health in a natural way that works for you and your body.
Dr. Blodgett completed his pre-doctoral sciences at Portland State University and graduated from the Oregon Health Science University School of Dentistry in 1999. As a modern pioneer in progressive dental care, Dr. Blodgett has become a leader in minimally-invasive dentistry, dental lasers, computerized dental technology, and holistic care. He is widely recognized for the innovative care he provides and is dedicated to helping his patients optimize their whole body health.