First and foremost, it’s simply about having a choice. Consumers have the right to choose the type of dental and medical treatments they receive. As more people become aware of the health risks involved with fluoride exposure, having an option to choose a fluoride-free dentist is one way people concerned about fluoride can reduce their exposure.
If you’re thinking — Isn’t fluoride a good thing? Shouldn’t I want a dentist who uses fluoride in their practice? Here are a few facts to consider so you can make an informed choice.
Since 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has mandated that all toothpastes containing fluoride include the following warning on its packaging and the tube itself:
“Warning: Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional assistance or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.”
Notice the warning doesn’t say that if swallowed you might get an upset stomach or a headache, it says “contact a Poison Control Center immediately.” What’s the poisonous substance contained in the toothpaste? Fluoride.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the concentration of fluoride in toothpaste sold in the United States ranges from 1,000-1,500 ppm (parts per million). The FDA has determined this level of concentration of fluoride to be toxic enough to require a warning label regarding potential poisoning from its use (if swallowed).
Colgate’s website states that dental office fluoride treatments contain fluoride concentrations at much higher levels ranging from 9,000 ppm to 20,000 ppm – that’s 9 to 20 times more potent than the level the FDA has classified as poisonous.
(By comparison, the EPA has set a maximum fluoride level of 4 ppm for water supplies in the U.S.–just in case you were wondering.)
The FDA has approved the following three fluoride compounds for use in dental products:
stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride, and sodium monofluorophosphate (MFP)- sodium fluoride is most commonly used. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) summarizing the potential hazards for sodium fluoride states that it is classified as a “poisonous material” and the toxicological section states “May cause adverse reproductive effects (fertility, fetoxicity), and birth defects based on animal data. May cause cancer based on animal data. May cause genetic (mutagenic) and tumorigenic effects.” Other potential toxic effects on humans cited include: skin irritation, eye irritation, corneal damage, digestive system irritation and/or damage, behavioral/central nervous system complications, and damage to bones, liver, respiratory system and urinary system.
You can view the complete MSDS for sodium fluoride and the other two compounds by clicking on each compound above.
The decision to use fluoride or not use fluoride is, of course, your choice. For those individuals who prefer to avoid it, Fluoride Free Dentistry offers consumers a convenient way to find a dentist in their area who does not use fluoride in their practice.