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Fluoride & Health

The American Dental Association (ADA)
and a growing number of dental researchers now recommend that children younger than a year avoid fluoridated water, and that babies under 6 months not take fluoride drops or pills.

 

The reason is the risk of dental fluorosis, a discoloring of the teeth that occurs because of excess exposure to fluoride from drinking water or other sources. 
 
Other concerns
Although the ADA continues to approve of the use of fluoride to prevent cavities, some researchers have raised other concerns about its possible hazards. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials concluded that “low levels of fluoride exposure in drinking water had negative effects on children’s intelligence and dental health.”
 
This backs up a 2008 analysis of 20 years of fluoride studies, which found “a consistent and strong association between the exposure to fluoride and low IQ.”  
 
The National Research Council has identified fluoride as an endocrine disrupter that may impair thyroid function, while recent research from Harvard University has found a possible connection between fluoride and bone cancer.
 
Although fluoride has been shown to prevent cavities, avoiding overexposure—especially for children—may be the best approach until questions of safety have been resolved.
 
Here are the ADA’s new recommendations:
  • For infants who get most of their nutrition from formula during their first year, use ready-to-feed formula to avoid excess fluoride.
  • If you use liquid concentrate or powdered infant formula, mix it with water free of fluoride or with low levels of fluoride.
  • Parents should not use fluoride toothpaste for children under two years unless advised to do so by a healthcare professional. Children should use only a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste at each brushing. Young children should always be supervised to ensure they’re spitting out toothpaste.
  • The ADA does not recommend use of fluoride mouth rinses for children under six, unless recommended by a health professional.
  • The optimal fluoride level in drinking water for reducing tooth decay is 0.7 parts per million. Naturally occurring fluoride may be higher in some areas, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires notification if the fluoride level exceeds 2 parts per million. People living in such areas should consider an alternative water source or home water treatments to reduce fluoride levels
 

Another choice

 

Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar that reduces plaque buildup and cavities.
 
Look for this natural ingredient in toothpaste, oral rinse, floss, gum, and mints.

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