The Fluoride Debate

Dear Dr. Ellie:

I really can’t get the straight scoop from the internet on this – can you give me 2 or 3 sentences as to why fluoride is a bad idea?   Is it because we have enough in our water and/or because it’s really not necessary for good dental care?  I’d love to dig in to these great natural brands of toothpaste but I see that so many of them, almost without exception, lack fluoride.    Thanks.

Hi N,

The FLUORIDE debate: I like to compare fluorides and chlorides – as an illustration.

Fluorides come from Fluorine : Chlorides come from Chlorine
These two elements are very similar and stand next to each other on the chemistry element list.

Neither chlorine nor  fluorine are safe – they are toxic gases which poison the lungs and the body.
Both chlorine and  fluorine combine with many other elements – and the combinations make compounds.

Many of these compounds are toxic – with the exception of two stable double-bonded compounds – their calcium and sodium compounds **** ( THIS IS THE REAL TAKE-HOME).

Calcium chloride – for example – has been used for years in the making of brie cheeses, beer, sports drinks and caramel fillings in chocolate ( to name a few uses)!
Sodium chloride – is table salt ( you will agree that these are very different products compared with chlorine gas).

Some salt is necessary for health, but excess salt is not healthy (for other reasons – not because it comes from chlorine).

Calcium fluoride is a naturally occurring compound and is found in soil and rocks.
Sodium fluoride – is the stable salt of fluoride. It is expensive – so they do not use it often – they prefer cheap alternatives.

A small amount of sodium fluoride is great to heal teeth and make them stronger. It works topically as a catalyst on the outside of the tooth surface. A little each day will keep teeth strong – but excess is not healthy ( for other reasons – not because it comes from fluorine)

In drinking water they substitute a silico-aluminum compound – which is an aluminum by-product of manufacture ( not recommended). In Crest Pro Health ( and many newer pastes) they use Stannous Fluoride ( a tin based fluoride) which is cheaper .

The problem with stannous fluoride is that it has a reaction with silica ( the main product used in good toothpaste). So they substitute chalk (in place of silica) and the problem is that chalk does not bind or control SLS. The result is that these newer pastes appear to create problems  – ulceration of gums, sensitivity, staining of teeth, loss of taste – even dry mouth.

A little sodium fluoride helps teeth absorb minerals (from saliva) to make tooth enamel repair itself.
Enamel is composed of living crystals and the fluoride can help a tooth become smoother, stronger and more acid resistant ( which is why teeth then appear whiter).

Only dilute fluoride makes this happen – you only need a small amount each day ( just like salt).  Too much fluoride can damage teeth.

Hope this is a good comparison that helps you understand why only a couple of fluoride products are GOOD for teeth.
Best wishes,


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