We all want the best for our kids, and like everything in life, there are different opinions on how to get there.
Maybe you go out of your way to read labels in your attempt to give your family the best quality products you can. But there’s one label you might have missed: the one on your family’s toothpaste.
Buying that bright, candy-esque packaged toothpaste because it might encourage brushing is naturally based on the best of intentions for the child.
But if it’s fluoridated, you’ll notice a poison control warning.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
– Dr. Stephen Covey
The Fluoridated Party Line
In January, a Norwegian study on oral health messages was published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene. The aim was to investigate recommendations given to the general public by dentists, dental hygienists, dental nurses, and public health nurses on preventing caries (tooth decay).
More than 800 health professionals answered the authors’ questionnaire.
- 59-71% judged oral hygiene education to be the most important part of preventing caries.
- 84-98% recommended that all children use fluoride toothpaste.
- Half recommended fluoride lozenges for 50% or more of children.
The message is clear: Fluoride, fluoride, fluoride. But does that make it right? Accurate? Effective?
It’s Too Much Sugar, NOT too little Fluoride
Frankly, it’s distressing to realize that diet seems not to have been mentioned at all – or not by enough to merit highlighting.
In terms of prevention, fluoride is, at best, a stop-gap measure – an attempt to minimize damage rather than keep it from happening in the first place. It’s a point that was made nicely in a paper published last year in the Journal of Dental Research.
The importance of sugars as a cause of caries is underemphasized and not prominent in preventive strategies. This is despite overwhelming evidence of its unique role in causing a worldwide caries epidemic. Why this neglect? One reason is that researchers mistakenly consider caries to be a multifactorial disease; they also concentrate mainly on mitigating factors, particularly fluoride. However, this is to misunderstand that the only cause of caries is dietary sugars. These provide a substrate for cariogenic oral bacteria to flourish and to generate enamel-demineralizing acids. Modifying factors such as fluoride and dental hygiene would not be needed if we tackled the single cause—sugars. [emphasis added]
Instead, preventive self-care for children gets reduced to a “how-to” message for parents: fluoridate. This is concerning.
- Concerning, because fluoride is a highly toxic substance that can cause negative health reactions.
- Concerning, because scientific information today is better than 1945, yet the dental industry has remained static on its position on fluoride.
- Concerning, because our kids are at risk of acute fluoride toxicity from that candy colored tube of toothpaste stamped with the ADA seal of approval.
Education as a Foundation of Health
When it comes to families with young children, the emphasis on fluoride is a culturally ingrained message that supersedes parental control. As a parent, you can regulate the cookie jar, but, how do you regulate, much less know, the quantity of fluoride your child ingests from toothpaste? Fluoridated water? Juices? Soft drinks? Processed meat? Other sources?
If you’ve ever left a dental office feeling shamed because you didn’t embrace fluoride for your kids, you should know there are alternatives. In biological dentistry, generally speaking, oral health care isn’t so much a “message” as it is a holistic philosophy.
Rather than just throwing fluoride recommendations at you, we seek to understand the desires and goals you have for your family’s dental care. Once we understand, we work to identify individual habits that may influence health outcomes and emphasize education regarding diet and effective cleaning techniques rather than fluoride.
We believe this approach not only empowers you and your family to achieve your health goals, but employs the truest sense of “self-care for children” in the prevention of tooth decay.