Is fluoride really dangerous?

Dental health Does the fluoride in toothpaste make us sick?

Almost all toothpaste contains fluoride. It is said to strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay. But reports are circulating time and again that describe the active ingredient as highly toxic. Children in particular are at risk.

A misunderstanding

Hardly any other substance has been as well researched as fluoride. In addition, according to dentists, it is the key to combating tooth decay, because it makes the tooth enamel more resistant to the microorganisms and acids that are naturally in the mouth or that we ingest with food. In addition, fluoride inhibits the growth of bacteria.

The fear of the active ingredient in toothpaste is primarily based on a misunderstanding, because many people confuse fluoride and fluorine. The latter is actually a very aggressive and highly toxic gas that can eat its way through all materials. But this gas only becomes liquid at minus 180 ° C.

Fluorides, which occur in the form of minerals everywhere in nature, also in various foods such as fish, black tea or mineral water, can be dangerous if the dosage is too high. And the fear that too much fluoride will cause teeth to crumble and attack bones, kidneys or the nervous system is not fundamentally wrong. But in order to reach the critical fluoride limit, we would have to consume several tubes of toothpaste every day.

The right dosage is what counts

So the all-clear? Not exactly, says the US health agency CDC. It can be a little less toothpaste. According to a recent study by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), very few people stick to the recommended amounts. Children especially like to overdo it. According to the study, 40 percent of children between the ages of three and six use significantly too much toothpaste. An amount the size of a grain of rice is recommended for children under three years of age, and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient for children aged three and over. Excessive use can discolour developing teeth because the fluoride builds up in tooth enamel.

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) issued a similar recommendation last year. The statement on "Fluoride prevention in infants and young children" states: "The most important result: The BfR advises using only one form of fluoride prophylaxis. As soon as you start brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, no more fluoride preparations should be taken." And a fluoride content of 0.05 percent is sufficient for small children.

No deficiency symptoms

In addition, fluoride is only recommended in connection with the prevention of tooth decay. If you do without toothpaste containing fluoride, you will not develop deficiency symptoms for a long time. But the likelihood that the dentist will pick up the drill on the next visit increases rapidly.