Sodium Fluoride- Why is it found in tap water?

Sodium Fluoride or simply fluoride is a substance found in soil, water and foods in natural state. It may also be produced synthetically for using it in drinking water, toothpastes, mouthwashes and various other chemical products. The water authorities recommend adding fluoride to the water supply as studies suggest that adding fluoride in the water where it is found in low levels can lower the risk of tooth decay in the local population of that area. Therefore, sodium fluoride is found in tap water that you use at home. Tooth decay being one of the most common problems that affects small children. And there are many people who cannot afford paying the fees for regular dental checkup, thus addition of fluoride will benefit the people in a good way. 

Risks associated with fluoride

 

Dental fluorosis: During the development of teeth in childhood, if teeth are exposed to high concentration of fluoride then it may lead to mild dental fluorosis. TIny white steaks or specks in the enamel of the tooth denote dental fluorosis. It does not result in bad teeth but provides discoloration which appears bad in public. Small children can be protected from fluorosis by way of breastfeeding infants or forming a formula milk using fluoride free water. Any mouthwash containing fluoride should not be used by children below the age of 6 years. Moreover, they should be supervised by an adult while brushing to ensure that they do not swallow the toothpaste. 

Skeletal Fluorosis: A bone disease, skeletal fluorosis is the result of excessive exposure to fluoride.  It generally leads to pain or damage in bones and joints in the body. There is increased risk of fracture in the body as the bones get hardened and less elastic with time. In the rare condition when bone thickens and bone tissue accumulates, it may result in impaired joint mobility. 

Thyroid problems: Excessive amounts of fluoride can be responsible for the damage of parathyroid gland. It may lead to the condition of hyperparathyroidism in which the parathyroid hormones secrete to much extent. It often results in depleted calcium levels in the bone structure and higher than normal calcium concentrations in the blood. The bones become more prone to fractures due to lower calcium concentrations. 

Neurological problems: As per a report that was published in 2017, even a little amount of exposure to fluoride before birth can result in poor cognitive outcomes in the future. Later in the year 2014, fluoride was known to be a hazardous neurotoxin in child development, including 10 other chemicals, like lead, arsenic, toluene and methylmercury.  In another research it was found out that higher levels of fluoride were linked with lower scores on IQ tests. 

Other health problems: 

  • Acne and other skin problems 
  • Cardiovascular problems which include arteriosclerosis and arterial calcification, high blood pressure, myocardial damage, cardiac insufficiency and heart failure. 
  • Any reproductive issues like lower fertility or early puberty in girls 
  • Thyroid dysfunction 
  • Health conditions that affect joints and bones such as osteoarthritis, bone cancer and temporomandibular joint disease. 
  • Any neurological problems that may lead to ADHD

 

  • Poisoning and fluoride:

If a person is highly exposed to fluoride, it may lead to:

  • Excessive formation of saliva in mouth 
  • Pain in abdomen 
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Seizures and muscle spasms

It is not generally due to drinking the tap water directly. It may happen in the case of accidental contamination of drinking water, for instance during an industrial fire or any sudden explosion. But, we must keep in mind that there are many substances that may provide harm in larger quantities but be of great help in small amounts. 

Benefits of fluoride:

  • Lowers tooth decay by 20 to 40 per cent 
  • Protection against cavities 
  • It is safe and gives effective results 
  • Cheaper option for dental treatment 
  • It is natural substance 

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