On a fluoride quest…

I have been thinking about this topic for a while. Forever Living has a non-fluoride toothpaste which we love (https://www.foreverliving.com/retail/entry/Shop.do?store=GBR&language=en&distribID=440500072227&itemCode=028), but I was wondering what and how much fluoride we need and if it’s a good idea to use it! I’d never paid any attention to this kind of thing before – it was a friend who pointed out to me that Thames Water (our local water supplier) doesn’t add any fluoride into the water like some others do (it’s certainly common practice in the USA).

I didn’t even really know what fluoride is – apart from that it is in kids toothpaste! I hope I’m not the only one that ignorant! Well now I know that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts, depending on which area of the UK you live in (that’s before its added). It’s also found in certain foods and drinks, including tea and fish.

What you might already know is that fluoride can help reduce the risk of tooth decay (where the outer layers of teeth become damaged by acids), which is why it’s added to many brands of toothpaste. It isn’t just needed for healthy teeth but also for healthy bone growth, although excess fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis which causes discoloration of the teeth, and bone pain and stiffness.

In the UK (unlike many other developed nations), there has been no mass fluoridation of water at a national level. There are many studies and arguments before and against it – but here each local authority/health service decides for themselves, whether they want to add fluoride to the water supply. And as I said earlier there is no fluoride added in the Thames Valley area. If you want to find out, just go to your water suppliers website. It’s probably in the FAQ section.

So how much do we need? The guidance says that adults should be having 4mg per day with an upper limit of 10mg a day. But that’s not how it’s shown on tooth paste! There it is shown in parts per million! So adult toothpaste usually has at least 1,350 parts per million with children’s toothpaste 1,000 or more (depending on the age you buy for). Kids by the way don’t have to use a children’s toothpaste! Just watch the amount they are using.

Now I tried to work out how many grams there are in the tooth paste our kids are actually using! Toothpaste gives the fluoride content in pmm, but the daily amount is in grams and the toothpaste tube contains ml! Anyone else confused?

From what I could work out is that 1000pmm translates into 1g of fluoride (there are various types but let’s keep it simple!) per kg of toothpaste. And we should be using 1g of toothpaste per brushing. That makes the amount of fluoride we are actually using in our toothpaste a ridiculously small amount. What is all the fuss about then?! I really don’t know! Sorry I can’t give you an answer to this one! If anyone knows, please enlighten me!

Our water here contains more naturally! Thames Water supplies have a natural concentration of between 0.1 – 0.4 mg/l. In the areas to the south and west of Reading(which is where I live I guess) the concentrations can be higher, typically around 1 mg/l. I have recently started drinking a lot more tap water so am getting about 2mg per day just from that.

And then there is the fluoride found in foods such as tea and seafood. Even fresh fruit have small amount such avocados (0.07pmm), apples (0.03pmm) and radishes (0.06pmm).

It can’t be argued that fluoride (in small amounts) is good for your teeth and bones, and that the highest concentration (apart from drinking water) is found in toothpaste. But looking this up did put my mind at rest that the amounts in toothpaste aren’t that big either! I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about our toothpaste. At least it contains aloe vera and bee propolis which are really good for your gums! If you are living in an area that has fluoride added to the drinking water this should be an easy decision! I do feel a bit more informed now though. Sorry there isn’t a nifty conclusion this time round, but I still wanted to share my findings so you can make up your own mind. I’d be really interested in your take on this! So get in touch!

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