ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — It’s only because I’ve lived long enough to see the pendulum swing from lurking dangers to miraculous cures – and then, darn it, back again. Oh, how wonderful it felt to be alive in the age when fluoride was in our drinking water, our toothpaste (“Look, Ma, no cavities”) our mouthwash and an integral part of our semi-annual dental checkup.
Now, we discover, only now, that it is one of the medications that the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) never tested for safety. When something is too good to be true it usually isn’t. This was released to the public before testing all products was required by law. It can cause dental-fluorosis – spotted, pitted and stained teeth. It is topical, not systemic. Now it’s recommended, if at all, for children at age six or seven when their second teeth come in.
Brian A. Burt of the University of Michigan School of Public Health reports that “fluoride supplements should no longer be used for young children in North America … the risks of using supplements in infants and young children outweigh the benefits.”
There is nothing I can do now; my children are all over thirty. Perhaps they listened when I yelled, “Don’t swallow the toothpaste.” Free starter bottles of Tri-Vi-Flor were in the packet when I was discharged from the hospital, and at the three month checkup I was given Poly-Vi-Flor. The flouride supplemented the essential vitamins, dropped into their toothless mouths and “ingested” for sure.
We’ve learned so much and witnessed the contradictions as the pendulum swings and marks time for us. There was a time when doctors treated “housewive’s fatigue” by suggesting she take time for herself. “Sit down in a comfortable place, have a cup of coffee, light a cigarette, and relax. You’ll feel better in no time.” …