We can’t see fluoride but it is there in the natural, bottled and tap water we drink as well as in dental products such as toothpaste, mouthwash and even supplements. It’s a potent mineral for preventing tooth decay and bone fortification.
Fluoride comes with many health benefits but consuming it in excess leads to many side effects.
What are the benefits of fluoride?
Fluoride is a powerhouse mineral that is beneficial to your teeth in the following ways:
- It rebuilds (remineralizes) weakened tooth enamel
- It reduces early symptoms of tooth decay by 20 to 40%
- It slows down mineral loss from tooth enamel
- It protects your teeth against cavities
- It prevents harmful bacteria from growing in your mouth
- It saves you money on dental treatment
- It is safe and effective
- It is basically natural though there is synthetic fluoride today
Yes, quite a number of them! Having too much of a good thing leads to sides effects and that also applies to fluoride consumption. So, you need to strike the right balance to avoid the following side effects of ingesting too much fluoride:
Overdose intake of fluorides can damage your thyroid gland and make the production of parathyroid hormones uncontrolled. This condition is referred to as hyperparathyroidism. The condition depletes calcium levels in bones, thus leading to abnormal calcium concentrations in the blood.
Taking more fluoride than recommended has been found to result in skeletal fluorosis, a rare condition. This disease involves developing fragile bones and joint stiffness which can heighten the risk of bone fractures and also osteoporosis and muscle wasting.
Acute Fluoride Toxicity
Fluoride overdose which causes this side effect is uncommon because it involves consuming a rarely high concentration of fluoride in water, mouthwash or toothpaste. Acute fluoride toxicity can cause nausea, stomach upset, diarrhea and vomiting. In certain cases, it can be life-threatening, especially in young children.
If you consume foods, water or use oral cleaning products with fluoride overdose, it can cause your teeth to look yellowish or brownish. This happens more quickly to young children’s teeth.
Taking high amounts of fluoridated water can weaken the enamel of your teeth and cause them to decay.
Skeletal fluorosis is a disease that attacks the bones of people who are exposed to very high levels of fluoride. The disease stiffens or hardens bones, reducing their elasticity and heightening the risk of getting fractures. Skeletal fluorosis can also cause joint mobility impairment because of the resulting bone tissue thickening and accumulation.
Children born after they had been exposed to high fluoride levels in the womb can have poor cognitive abilities. According to a report published in 2017, high fluoride levels are linked to low scores on IQ tests.
Also, being a documented neurotoxin, fluoride can hamper a child’s growth and development.
As with all other substances, excess intake or exposure to fluoride can be harmful in multiple ways. Before you use any fluoride supplements, consult a dentist.