The Balancing Act of Fluoride and Skeletal Fluorosis
If you've ever wondered about the presence of fluoride in your tap water or heard discussions about it, you're not alone. The history of fluoridation dates back to the 1970s when a significant portion of the population aged 60 and above were expected to lose their teeth and require full dentures. However, this scenario has changed considerably due to the practice of water fluoridation, where fluoride is added to community drinking water supplies. But, as with any subject, questions arise, including how much fluoride is in our water and how public health officials determine the appropriate dosage.
We know that for everything medical in this world, and we know that while not having fluoride is bad, mass fluoridation is bad as children are secceptible to fluoride which causing them to have immediate abdominal pain, seizures, vomiting, excessive salivation, and muscle spasms when they ingest excessive amount of it. Children with prenatal fluoride exposure have been associated with lower IQ scores. With this, we would assume that the fluoride in our public drinking water be reduced, but you must have heard that fluoride is also good for our teeth.
The historical context of fluoride in our lives takes us back to the early 20th century when high sugar consumption led to widespread tooth problems, even among teenagers who required full dentures. Frederick McKay, a dentist, observed a curious phenomenon among his patients at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Some had dotted brown stains on their teeth, while others did not. This distinction was due to fluoride: those with access to fluoride in their water had fewer dental issues and less tooth decay.
People who have to take in high amount of floride over a long period of time can suffer from skeletal fluorosis. This condition usually occur in floride belt regions where there are naturally occuring floride in high amount. These places include countries that go from Syria to Kenya as well as from Turkey to China.
Also people who take excessive black tea, are at a high risk of Skeletal fluorosis. It is known that Camelia sinensis which is the specie of plant where majority of the tea asides herbal tea come from are fluoride hyperaccumulators as they are able to absorb chemicals and heavy metal at a concentration higher than it is available in the soil around them, thereby causing them to keep absorbing floride into themselves and the older the plant, the more fluoride they can absorb.
So, while scientists and dentist keep saying that we should take fluoride, using them in our toothpaste, having them in our water, and even in lots of ingested foods and drinks, can we say that fluoride is good for us? Well, that question is a hard and complicated one to answer. I will like to leave with the words of Anne-Marie Glenny who was a dentistry researcher in the University of Manchester that says "There is no argument that fluoridation doesn't work, the question is whether it is still the right way forward".