Monday, June 7, 2010

What's the deal with Fluoride?...Part 2

So what exactly is the downside of fluoride?

As with most minerals, vitamins, medications, and even water too much can be harmful.  Children with developing teeth, who ingest too much fluoride over a long period of time, will often develop a condition called fluorosis. 

Fluorosis is a disruption in the development of tooth enamel that often presents as "mottling" or small white spots or streaks in the teeth.  In most cases of fluorosis the discolorations are very subtle and easily remedied.  In rare severe cases the mottling can have a brown, pitted appearance.  This picture represents a patient with a typical form of fluorosis.

Fluoride ingested at extremely high doses can cause a serious or even lethal poisoning.  There are several hundred emergency room admissions each year for fluoride toxicity.  The vast majority of these cases occur in children under the age of 6 and usually result from the ingestion of great quantities of fluoride.  For a typical 3 year old child this would be over one half of an entire tube of toothpaste or about 10 gallons of fluoridated water in one sitting.  For a typical 9 year old child this would be about an entire tube of toothpaste or 20 gallons of fluoridated water at one time.

Next time in Part 3 - How should I be giving Fluoride to my child...