You use toothpaste every day, but do you really know what’s in it? You’ve probably heard of one ingredient in particular, fluoride. Fluoride is the by-product of the manufacturing of copper, aluminum, and iron. It can be found in a variety of things you ingest and you may not know much about what it is or what it can do to your health. Below you’ll find the disadvantages and dangers of fluoride in toothpaste, as well as precautions to take to avoid fluoride.
1. Fluoride Accumulates in the Body
Your kidneys and the renal system are designed to filter and excrete material from your body that is unhealthy or unwanted. A healthy adult’s kidneys can only excrete between 50-60% of the fluoride they ingest every day, with the rest simply accumulating in the body. The kidneys of a child or infant can absorb up to 80% of the fluoride they ingest into their bones. As you age, fluoride-concentration only worsens.
2. Infertility-Risks Increase
Studies have given scientists evidence that high doses of fluoride can destroy the male reproductive system in animals. In test subjects, the sperm was damaged by the fluoride and rate-of-infertility increased. More evidence points to the connection between fluoride and fertility, as an increased infertility rate in couples has been common among areas of high fluoride-intake. Reproductive rates in workers who have been exposed to fluoride are also interestingly decreased.
3. Fluoride Can Affect the Brain
Science has been performing a wide array of studies and tests on fluoride in recent decades, and some findings indicate that one of the scariest dangers of fluoride is how it can interfere with the functions of the brain. Not only can it hinder a developing brain, but it can impact and alter behavior. Studies have even shown that fluoride-ingestion can cause symptoms and complications related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Though there has not been as many studies and research done as some of the other dangers of fluoride, evidence suggests that fluoride can even create a lowered IQ. In areas of high-fluoride ingestion, you will see a larger percentage of people with lower-than-average IQs.
4. Early Onset of Puberty Can Occur
As stated before, the dangers of fluoride extend into your neuro-development. Fluoride can impair visual-spatial organization and the pineal gland. As it effects the development of the brain, it also reduces the production of melatonin in children. When all of this happens, children typically experience the onset of puberty earlier-than-average. Scientists believe that fluoride is playing its own part in the decline of the average-age for children experiencing the onset of puberty.
5. Fluorosis Is a Serious Concern
Fluorosis is one of the most-alarming dangers of fluoride, since it has long-lasting impacts. This defect affects your tooth enamel during the years that your teeth are forming (years 0-8). It occurs when you’ve ingested too much fluoride during this time, and it’s characterized by white spots or streaks on the teeth, brown/black staining, and even pitting and crumbling of the enamel.
While many dentists still associate fluoride with the ability to protect against cavities and decay, but it could be the source of the problem all-along. Children with severe mouth issues tend to have naturally-higher concentrations of fluoride in their bodies.
6. Fluoride Can Brittle the Bones
Since one of the main dangers of fluoride is its accumulation in the body, where do you think the fluoride accumulates? It winds-up in a variety of places, but the majority usually accumulates in the bones. In fluoridated communities, children are twice as likely to experience bone defects. This same correlation can be made between fluoride and the frequency of bone fractions (for both children and adults).
It comes as no surprise then, that a correlation has been made between elderly people, hip fractures, and high concentrations of fluoride. Those with high-levels of fluoride in their system are more-likely to suffer from hip fractures, osteoporosis, and brittle-bones. Scientists even suggest that as our younger generations grow, they will experience an even higher rate of bone complications in an elderly age, because of the rate we ingest fluoride.
7. It Could Be Poisonous
There is a reason the FDA requires toothpastes to carry poison warning labels. If you swallow too much toothpaste or fluoride, you could suffer from acute poisoning and even death. You may think that this would require a lot of fluoride, but one tube of toothpaste contains enough fluoride to kill a small child. Though this severe type of poisoning is rare, lower doses can also cause symptoms of poisoning like nausea, vomiting, headaches, and gastric pain.
8. Fluoride Affects the Skin
Some people can experience the onset or worsening of dermatitis when using fluoride toothpaste. Dermatitis can be caused by a variety of things, but it is mostly characterized by dry, red, flaky, itchy skin. It usually occurs around the mouth but can be seen anywhere on the body. Those who start experiencing new skin problems that are otherwise unexplained, see an improvement in their symptoms within a few weeks of switching to a non-fluoridated toothpaste.
9. Glucose Metabolism Can Suffer
This could be considered one of the most overlooked dangers of fluoride. Studies have shown that fluoride can adversely affect your blood glucose and insulin levels. Evidence shows that those with higher levels of fluoride in their body had higher glucose levels in the blood and also diminished levels of insulin.
Because of this, many in the scientific community see a correlation between fluoride and diabetes, especially in children. Diabetes occurs when your body has persistently high glucose levels and persistently low levels of produced-insulin. In fact, many doctors will suggest that a diabetic child use a toothpaste with little to no fluoride.
Though fluoride is a common ingredient in most toothpastes, that doesn’t make it safe to use. It can put you and your children at an increased risk for a wide variety of complications. And though it may protect against cavities, are the risks associated with fluoride worth it? Before using a toothpaste or ingesting other products containing fluoride, do your research and consult a physician with any and all questions.