Fluoride consumption is a concern for a lot of people, mostly because there are so many ways that you can be exposed to it. There is fluoride in our toothpaste, some foods, medicine and even our drinking water. Some communities still add fluoride to their drinking water as a way of promoting oral health – a practice whose effectiveness has been questioned by numerous scientists.
Although the benefits of controlled fluoride consumption are being debated, what everyone is in agreement about is that fluoride can cause serious problems to the body when consumed in large quantities. It is especially harmful to children between the ages of 1 -4 years as it can hamper neurological development resulting in lowered IQs. It also damages teeth causing permanent discolouration.
In both children and adults, fluoride intake in large quantities is known to weaken bones, increase the risk of some types of cancer, and affect the thyroid function.
With so many ways of consuming fluoride, it can be difficult to monitor our intake which increases the risk of overexposure. Here are 5 ways you can reduce fluoride exposure according to Lifestylehealth:
- Stop consuming fluoridated water. Consuming tap water is, on average, the largest source of fluoride for people living in areas that fluoridate their water. You should, therefore, avoid drinking water directly from the tap before it is purified. Eliminating fluoride from tap water before consumption is especially critical if you have an infant. You can avoid consuming fluoridated water in 3 ways:
- Water filters. Passing your water through a water filter that is designed to remove fluoride can help remove about 90% of the substance.
- Bottled water. Most brands will display the fluoride levels of their bottled water which can help you choose the one with the least amount of fluoride. Spring water generally has very small amounts of fluoride.
- Water distillation. Water distillation eliminates most, if not all, of the fluoride. It also removes up to 99.9% of other impurities in the water making it pure and safe to drink. A single countertop distillation unit can provide enough drinking water for the household.
- Don’t allow your child to use fluoride toothpaste. Children are very vulnerable to fluoride and swallowing fluoride toothpaste can expose them to high amounts of the substance. Buy a non-fluoride toothpaste for your child to reduce this risk. If they use regular toothpaste, make sure to only put a tiny amount and supervise the child so that they don’t swallow. Also, avoid buying flavoured fluoride toothpaste as this encourage kids to swallow.
- Eat less processed food. When fluoride is added to water, everything prepared with the water such as beverages and foods will also contain the fluoride. Avoid consuming these items and instead buy fresh produce that you can prepare with purified water at home. Processed beverages, due to their high water content, are the most potent and should be avoided.
- Reduce your tea consumption. Tea leaves contain high levels of fluoride which will get into your body when you drink it. The older the leaves are, the more the fluoride they will contain. Since some teas have high levels of anti-oxidants that boost good health, you should use tea varieties made from young leaves to enjoy the benefits of tea while reducing the fluoride intake.
- Avoid fluoride gel treatments. Fluoride gels are used to treat patients at high risk of cavities – although some dentists use them more liberally. These gels contain huge amounts of acidic fluoride gel which can accidentally be swallowed during the procedure. Avoid this treatment unless it is completely necessary for your situation.
While we can’t be certain about the amount of fluoride we consume on a daily basis, taking these precautions can ensure that intake is reduced to a minimal amount for healthier body functions.