What is more toxic than lead; almost as toxic as arsenic; reduces IQ in all humans; has the ability to contribute to disease processes like Alzheimer’s and is found in almost all children’s toothpastes? Fluoride of course – a highly contentious ingredient that is surrounded in debate; conspiracy theory and sadly can be found in drinking water of most countries, including South Africa.
Fluoride and Your Family’s Health
Unfortunately if your toothpaste contains fluoride, it is required to carry a warning statement that reads, “Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age“. Or “If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek medical help or contact a Poison Control Centre right away.” It’s not just children at risk however, should you be tempted to occasionally allow some of that yummy peppermint or strawberry flavour to go down the hatch, well, think again. Swallowing more than what you use for brushing is a major no-no. The lethal dose of fluoride is about 5 mg fluoride for every 2.2 lbs. (1 kilogram) of body weight. If you swallow a little, you’ll be OK. But one tube of toothpaste holds enough fluoride to kill a 60-pound (30-kilogram) child if the whole tube was swallowed. Little wonder, considering that fluoride is a by-product of aluminium and fertilizer manufacturing and contains heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and chromium. Makes you think again about what is being locked away in your medicine cupboard and what is allowed to stay on the bathroom sink in reach of inquisitive little fingers…
Fluoride has also been linked to dermatitis; skin rashes, mouth lesions and weight gain and a fairly common effect of too much fluoride may cause fluorosis, which is spotted discoloration on the teeth. Kids younger than 6 are typically at risk, in fact a study in the US showed that 41% of kids aged 12 to 15 today have mild fluorosis; in 1986, the rate was 23%.
So with all these nasty side-effects why is there fluoride in our toothpaste in the first place? On the one extreme, it is claimed that fluoridation is not about “children’s teeth” but rather, it is about industry since the 1930’s, ridding itself of crude hazardous waste products, silicofluorides, for a profit. Silicofluorides are 85 times more toxic than naturally-occurring calcium fluoride. On the other side, fluoride was established by dental experts in the 1940’s to help fight tooth decay as it was believed that topical fluoride treatments help to protect teeth from cavities by forming a protective shield on the enamel of teeth.
Unfortunately, better fluoridation research is necessary as this theory is not as grounded in fact as we are led to believe.
A new study has found that the protective shield fluoride forms on teeth is up to 100 times thinner than previously believed. This raises questions about how this renowned cavity-fighter really works. It has long been believed that fluoride changes the main mineral in tooth enamel, hydroxyapatite, into a more-decay resistant material called fluorapatite. But the new research found that the fluorapatite layer formed in this way is only 6 nanometers thick — meaning it would take almost 10,000 such layers to span the width of a human hair. According to Science Daily:
“The scientists question whether a layer so thin, which is quickly worn away by ordinary chewing, really can shield teeth from decay”.
What you should also know is how effective fluoride is in preventing cavities in comparison to other safer alternatives. For instance, healthy levels of vitamin D have even been shown to outrank it. In addition, fluoride supplements have also been shown to produce little benefit to cavity prevention.
So since the jury is still out, what should you do? At Faithful to Nature, we take the stance that if there is smoke there is likely to be fire. And if safer alternatives exist why take the risk? Let’s give the traditional dental community the benefit of the doubt, and say that the use of fluoride applied correctly and safely to one’s teeth may help with cavity decay, but even so, why put your family at risk of ingesting this poison or irritating their mouths with it when there are so many other safer ways to strengthen one’s teeth? Our argument is that what we need are better health habits and dental hygiene rather than fluoridation in our toothpastes and in our drinking water.
How Can You Prevent Tooth Decay Naturally?
1. Consume foods rich in alkaline
Alkaline is responsible for making the bones strong and healthy – being too acidic can result in an unbalanced pH level in the body, which will lead the body to lose calcium. Thus, eating alkaline-rich foods can help prevent the formation of cavities. Foods that are rich in alkaline include fruits and vegetable.
2. Eat raw vegetables
Cooking vegetables makes them lose their cell-building nutrients, which will result in getting lower levels of essential nutrients. Eat your vegetables raw once in a while to maximize the nutrients you can receive.
3. Brush your teeth well
The oldest rule in the book. You must clean your teeth regularly to keep them healthy and plaque free, and brushing is one of the best ways to do so. Individuals typically brush once in the morning and once at night, however some may want to consider brushing a third time after a mid-day meal.
4. Use dental products with tea tree oil
Incorporating tea tree oil into the oral products you use on your teeth is very beneficial. Tea tree can actually protect the teeth from bacteria growth, so cavities would not build up. Our Earthsap toothpaste contains tea tree oil and the Apothecary Herbal Mouthwash & Throat Gargle has been enhanced with both tea tree oil and xylitol.
5. Use dental products with natural mint extract
Dr. Hauschka Med Fortifying Mint Toothpaste is a great example of a great product using natural spearmint extract, which contributes to fresh breath and inhibits the growth of bacteria.
6. Use dental products with xylitol
This is a natural sweetener that’s been found to actively aid in repairing minor cavities. All of the Spry products contain Xylitol, as well as our Olgani Clove and Xylitol Mouth Wash specifically formulated to assist with cavity prevention. Our Pure Beginnings Fresh Mint toothpaste also contains peppermint oil and xylitol. The Spry Mouthwash is of course xylitol based too. And importantly, all three of our children’s toothpastes are enhanced with Xylitol.
Flossing, like brushing, is one of the most widely known ways to proactively prevent tooth decay. Flossing removes food particles from hard-to-reach places between the teeth, greatly reducing the incidence of tooth decay. (We actually sell a floss with added xylitol, giving your flossing added benefit.)
8. Chew gum sweetened with Xylitol
Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum after meals and snacks can help rinse off and neutralize the acids released by the bacteria in plaque, which are harmful to tooth enamel. Both the act of chewing and the flavour of the artificial sweeteners in the gum stimulate ten times the normal rate of saliva flow. Not only does the increased saliva flow neutralize the acids in your mouth, it also washes away food particles, helping to keep your teeth clean. Sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol has the added benefit of inhibiting the growth of Streptococcus mutans, one of the oral bacteria that cause cavities. In the presence of xylitol, the bacteria lose the ability to adhere to the tooth, stunting the cavity-causing process. With xylitol use over a period of time, the types of bacteria in the mouth change and fewer decay-causing bacteria survive on tooth surfaces. View our range of Xylitol gum.
9. Drink green and black teas
Studies have shown that frequent consumption of green tea and/or black tea reduces plaque build-up and suppresses cavity-causing bacteria. Drink the tea plain without the addition of sugar, milk or other sweeteners. Find your perfect our organic black tea and our organic green tea.
10. Keep your toothbrush clean
The bacteria Streptococcus mutans has been shown to be a main cause of cavities, and it grows within your toothbrush. Every few days, boil it with some salt water at a rolling boil for at least one minute. Replace your toothbrush once a month.
11. Use a tongue cleaner
This helps to remove cavity forming bacteria.
Smoking leads to dry mouth, a condition whereby saliva production is impaired. Saliva breaks down food and may help to keep it from sticking to your teeth. When saliva becomes scarce, food particles may increasingly stick to your teeth and provide a hospitable environment in which bacteria may grow.
Drink more water
Water is needed to produce saliva. Saliva is very important because it protects the mouth. It contains important mucus and enzymes which help cover the teeth. Without saliva, the body cannot easily break down the food, and also will not be able to help balance out the acidity levels of the mouth.