This is a very interesting question with a not
so simple answer. To answer the last part of your
question: Yes, fluoride is good for you
teeth. Fluoride helps prevent the breakdown of
minerals in your teeth. When fluoride is absorbed
into your teeth (through drinking water or
toothpaste) it actually attracts other minerals,
like calcium, to your teeth where they form
mineral deposits. These mineral deposits
strengthen your teeth and prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride also helps kill bacteria that live on
your gums and teeth so that they don’t eat away at
your teeth and cause damage.
As far as chlorine goes, it is a larger
element than fluorine and therefore has different
chemical properties. Chloride has not been
shown to draw calcium into your teeth like
fluoride, due to the difference in atom size
and electronegativity. So for all these reasons,
we add fluoride to toothpaste and drinking water,
but not chloride.
Now back to the first part of your question,
fluoride can be bad for you if ingested in high
enough doses. The most common negative side
effect of ingesting too much fluoride is something
called “fluorosis” This is when too many
minerals are attracted to your teeth or bones.
When this happens, your teeth may begin to get
dark stains from the mineral deposits. It may also
cause your bones to break slightly more easily.
Typically these are not major concerns, and for
most people a high enough level of fluoride will
never be ingested from drinking water or
toothpaste to lead to these problems. As is the
case with anything, ingesting enough fluoride is
toxic and you could die. However, you would have
to be ingesting a TON of fluoride, at amounts
hundreds of times greater than the maximum dose
found in drinking water and toothpaste. I’m sure
you don’t worry about things like perfume, nail
polish, and lipstick, but inhaling/ingesting any
of those things at a high enough dose is also
incredibly toxic (even deadly).
So, while it is true that extremely high
doses of fluoride are toxic and could potentially
kill a person, this is true for just about any
substance on earth. Remember, moderation is
key, and the amount of fluoride in drinking water
and toothpaste is extremely moderate. The addition
of fluoride to drinking water has even been
described by the Center for Disease Control as
“one of the top medical achievements of the 20th
century”. So go ahead and enjoy your Sensodine and
those cavity free teeth you’ll have as a result.
Hope that helped!
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