Second Opinion: Fluoridation Concerns

ByABC News
February 15, 2001, 12:50 PM

Feb 15 -- If you dare to take a step into the world of junk science and fanaticism, then begin by taking a stroll to your bathroom and check out your toothpaste. You may be surprised.

There likely is a little warning section on the tube that suggests you keep it out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. In fact, any child between the ages of 2 and 6 should only use a pea-sized amount.

And should you be one of those hedonists who cant easily control yourself and occasionally allow some of that yummy peppermint or strawberry flavor to go down the hatch, well, think again. Swallowing more than what you use for brushing is a major no-no. You may have to seek professional assistance or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.

That scary warning on your toothpaste which began appearing in 1997 is about fluoride. The Food and Drug Administration considers ingestion of fluoride toothpaste to be potentially poisonous. Little wonder, considering that fluoride is a by-product of aluminum and fertilizer manufacturing and contains heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and chromium. Fluoride is not a high-purity pharmaceutical, to put it conservatively.

Does Fluoridated Water Fight Cavities?

But the fluoride is in your toothpaste to fight cavities. When it comes into direct contact with teeth, fluoride appears to help. The much bigger questions are whether we need to fluoridate the entire water supply to achieve this and whether water fluoridation, an indirect method to fight cavities, actually works.

The answers dont come easily, even though loud voices on both sides of the debate for the past 55 years have been giving the impression that scientific truth is definitely on their side.

Fierce political battles have been raging in many communities across the country about whether to fluoridate the water supply ever since Grand Rapids, Mich. took the first step in 1945. Thus far, about 60 percent of the U.S. water supply is fluoridated.