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American Women's Club of Hamburg


Jennifer M discusses the dangers of flouridation for young children. Originally published July 2000.

Did you know that Hamburg's water is not fluoridated? After reading up on fluoride and its benefits and hazards, I am personally beginning to think this is a blessing in disguise. As a matter of fact, I have yet to read anything positive about fluoride, especially when it comes to children. On the contrary, the U.S. Preventive Dental Health Association warns that fluoride is a toxic substance and in scientific experiments has caused neurological damage in the offspring of pregnant rats exposed to fluoride. In addition, laboratory rats drinking fluoridated water (at the same level found in most US cities' water supplies) developed lesions of the brain, arteries and kidneys. This poses daunting questions for the dental industry, which has been flouting the need of fluoride to prevent cavities for decades. The main issue facing the general public these days is not what the best way to expose one's child's teeth to fluoride is, but rather how to promote good dental hygiene without the use of toxic substances, such as fluoride.

Tooth decay starts in childhood because new permanent molars have tiny holes and grooves in the enamel surface, inviting bacteria to eat away at the holes and eventually penetrate to the interior of the tooth. That is why it is important to start a good dental hygiene program with your children as soon as they are able to brush their teeth (with help from you, of course). According to the American Dental Association, the use of fluoride has the effect of reducing the size of the holes and grooves in the tooth enamel, thus preventing the bacteria from entering the tooth. However, continuous and thorough cleaning of the teeth also prevents the spread of bacteria and thus of tooth decay and is definitely non-toxic. The use of a fluoridated toothpaste, as a matter of fact, could even pose potential dangers to smaller children who can not yet properly rinse their mouths after brushing and who swallow 90-100 per cent of the toothpaste which enters their mouths. In fact, as of April 1997 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required the following warning to appear on all flouridated toothpaste:

WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age.
In case of accidental overdose, seek professional assistance
or contact a poison control center immediately.

Not a very comforting product to be using on our children or ourselves, if you ask me. One alternative is to have your child's permanent molars "sealed". This is a painless process in which the porous enamel of the teeth is sealed with a thin substance. This procedure is itself not without dangers. For one thing, many sealants also contain fluoride, so be sure to insist on a non-fluoridated sealant. Second, during the application process, a resin is used which afterwards must be thoroughly polished and washed away to prevent your child from overexposure to xenoestrogen, another potentially dangerous substance.

The safest form of tooth decay prevention, in the end, is regular brushing of the teeth with a non-fluoridated toothpaste.

In Hamburg, many pediatricians have been recommending and prescribing fluoride tablets for infants and toddlers because it was previously believed that simple ingestion of fluoride would have a beneficial effect on the development of a child's permanent teeth. Recently, however, it has been established that the mere ingestion of fluoride has no effect on teeth, especially baby teeth. This makes the use of these tablets, especially for infants with no teeth, superfluous. And with the latest information from the U.S. indicating that fluoride is just another posionous substance, it is good that many Hamburg pediatricians no longer prescribe these fluoride tablets. The U.S. FDA, as a matter of fact, has never approved the use of fluoride tablets due to the possible dangerous side effects of fluoride.

As with many other medical issues, this one also has two sides depending on who you consult. The dental industry will almost certainly assure the public about the safety of using fluoride and still pushes for the fluoridation of all public water supplies in the U.S. The FDA, on the other hand, is at best non-committal when it comes to the possible side-effects of fluoride exposure; but its hesitant warnings and passive resistance to fluoride use seem to indicate possible dangers; or at least indicate to the general public that problems do exist and caution is called for when it comes to the use of fluoride.

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