Fluoride has been used in public drinking water since the 1940s. Since then, water fluoridation, as the treatment process is known, has been the source of public health praise and controversy. The mineral is well known for its oral health benefits. Fluoride remineralizes enamel and helps prevent cavities from forming. The Centers for Disease Control named fluoridated water as one of the “10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
While the well-researched benefits of this element use continue to outweigh health concerns, a recent article published in JAMA Pediatrics has once again raised concerns about its use. Critics of fluoride use have pointed toward the new research as proof that it is inherently dangerous. But is the consensus within the medical community, and what do these new findings actually say about “nature’s cavity fighter?”
Fluoride Use in the 20th Century
The National Institutes of Health provided these historical dates.
Fluoride research began in 1901 under the guidance of Dr. Frederick McKay H. V. Churchill, a chemist. He used photospectrographic analysis to determine that it was a potential cause of enamel discoloration. In the late 1930s, Dr. H. Trendley Dean, head of the Dental Hygiene Unit at the NIH, determined that low levels of fluoride will not result in staining of teeth. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city to add the element to its public drinking water for the purposes of preventing cavities. In 1955, a study was conducted that found that cavity occurrence had dropped 60 percent since water fluoridation began
Water fluoridation now benefits around 200 million Americans, according to NIH.
Recent Findings on Fluoride Use in Pregnant Women
Last August, JAMA Pediatrics published an article. “Association Between Maternal Fluoride Exposure During Pregnancy and IQ Scores in Offspring in Canada”. The research concluded the following. “Fluoride exposure during pregnancy was associated with lower IQ scores in children aged 3 to 4 years.”. The article is based on a study of two groups. Women who were exposed to fluoride during pregnancy and a control group that was not.
Fluoride crosses from the mother to the unborn child through the placenta, the article noted. Fluoride also accumulates in brain regions that are involved in learning and memory. The article concludes that pregnant women should refrain from using fluoride to reduce the risk of their children having slightly lower IQ scores by age 3 and 4.
ADA Guidelines for Fluoride Use
Following the JAMA Pediatrics article’s publication, the American Dental Association announced that it remains committed to fluoride use as an effective tool to prevent cavities.
“The American Dental Association remains committed to fluoridation of public water supplies as the single most effective public health measure to help prevent tooth decay,” the ADA said through a public statement. That commitment, the ADA noted, is in light with other public health organizations. Such as the World Health Organization, U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics.”
In light of the new study, many dental practices are taking a cautionary approach. Pregnant women should expect to be advised about the potential health concerns related to its use during pregnancy. At no point can a dentist require the use of fluoride. Patients always have the right to decline it.
If you live in the McAllen, TX area and have questions about fluoride use, we welcome you to contact Top Dental online or by calling (956) 618-5800. Dr. Joon Baek and the expert team of Top Dental offer a wide range of cosmetic and restorative treatment options.
Article Source: Amazines