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  • Writer's pictureDr. Pearl E. Whites

Fluoride--Poison or Panacea?

I practiced dentistry in Illinois and had worked on many Amish patients. Wonderful people!

Amish Family

They have such high morals but one thing they lacked were beautiful teeth. They would brush their teeth religiously with non-fluoride toothpastes yet ALL ages had rampant cavities, horrible breath, and striations on all their teeth.

You may have read articles how fluoride is in rat poison, how the same cavity rates exist in sample sizes that do and don't use fluoride in drinking water, and how it will destroy your teeth.

Without losing you in scientific jargon, here is very basic information regarding fluoride:

Benefits of Fluoride

Every time you eat, acids attack your teeth. If this breakdown goes unprotected then you get cavities. Did you know that your teeth can actually "remineralize?" Microscopically they can repair themselves and this is enhanced with fluoride.

Healthy Mouth via Fluoride

Fluoride acts as a shield on your teeth making them more resistant to cavities. Fluoride not only improves the threshold to make bacteria work even harder to create cavities, but fluoride helps repair teeth and gives your teeth a more uniform color. Without it, your teeth likely would look like every one of my Amish patients' discolored teeth.

Too Much Fluoride (Fluorosis)

Signs of too much fluoride or not enough fluoride can leave white clouds or striations on your teeth. The ideal amount of fluoride though is one big piece of the puzzle to create that envious social media smile. It is important to regulate how much fluoride a child up to 8-years old is exposed to, but after those years the teeth have developed far enough that more fluoride rarely negatively affects teeth. Perhaps one advantage of too much fluoride is that those patients have a much harder time getting cavities than others...


Getting fluoride in our local water is as simple as it has been to get everyone on board getting vaccinated for COVID. Since we don't fluoridate our Oregon drinking water we see the opposite problem in our dental offices--less protected teeth and more striations/cavities likely due to lack of fluoride.

How Much Fluoride Do I Need?

Fluoride is not a one-size fits all, but the negative consequences without it are seen daily in our dental office. We answer that specific question and point out exactly which toothpaste you should buy. With so much information out there it would be best to consult with Dr. Nelson and our hygienists about your individual case to know what would be the best plan of action for you or your child regarding toothpaste, mouthwash, fluoride varnish, etc. If white clouds or tan striations on your teeth are present, there's a possibility they may be removed.

Though there's no magic bullet yet in never getting cavities again, fluoride is more panacea than poison.

For those that are so anti fluoride, that's fine. Us dentists don't mind you using that argument one bit at all--we'll see you soon.

Before and After of Failing Teeth

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