It’s a health warning all parents should know about. Fluoride is added to the tap water in most water districts in Tennessee. The American Dental Association says this prevents tooth decay, but this month an advisory was added to their website. It warns parents not to mix fluoridated water with their baby’s formula.
Fluoride is added to our water to help strengthen our teeth and prevent cavities, but some are saying it may do more harm than good. Fluoride can be a poisonous substance when it is in the body in certain amounts. Health researcher Dan Stockin worries that severe dental fluorosis is a warning to a deeper danger.
“It’s turning out now that thyroid disease, kidney damage, bone cancer in young boys, a number of these things are tied to drinking fluoridated water,” he says.
In fact, just this month the ADA warned that powdered baby formula should not be mixed with fluoridated tap water due to a higher risk of fluorosis.
Pediatric dentist Jeannie Taylor sees lots of young teeth.
“I couldn’t really believe it when I heard about it,” she says, “but it makes a lot of sense. With little ones they don’t need quite as much fluoride, they’re more sensitive to the levels in the water, and to tell you the truth, I have seen, especially on the front teeth, a good number of children with the white streaks, the fluorosis on their teeth. It could be as a result of this.”
Stockin says fluorosis is an outer biomarker of an inner poisoning. He adds that the fluoride in the water coming out of most of our taps comes from a surprising source.
“It’s collected in the form of a liquid in air pollution collection devices on smokestacks at phosphate fertilizer factories in Louisiana and central Florida. That’s literally where we get the substance that we fluoridate with.”
But Jeannie Taylor says the benefits of fluoride are well known.
“I think it should definitely be in our water,” she says. “There has been such a difference documented over the last 50 years in the number of cavities and the severity of cavities, so I think it’s a good thing, I just think it needs to be monitored, especially with babies.”
In its mild form, dental fluorosis appears as permanent white lines on your kids’ teeth.
To avoid the fluoride in tap water, you’ll have to use bottled water or add special filters to your home. Common charcoal filters like the ones found in refrigerators, don’t filter out fluoride. You can also call your water company and ask them to stop fluoridating the water in your district. It is voluntary for the water districts in Tennessee. Stockin says if you really believe in fluoride, use fluoride toothpaste and then spit it out.
The ADA says children under the age of two shouldn’t use fluoride toothpaste unless advised to do so by their dentist or other health professional, because they could swallow the toothpaste.