A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics has caused quite a stir across the country. The article concluded that: Maternal exposure to higher levels of fluoride during pregnancy was associated with lower IQ scores in children aged 3 to 4 years. These findings indicate the possible need to reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy.
Fluoride, long trusted as a preventative treatment for tooth decay, has had its fair share of critics over the years. The naturally occurring mineral prevents decay, slows the advance of cavities, hardens enamel, and remineralizes the outer structure of teeth. As with many chemicals and minerals, what is safe for healthy adults may not be safe for a developing fetus. Based on the recent JAMA Pediatrics study, Dr. Norman Medina now advises that pregnant women who seek dental treatments at Seasons of Smiles avoid fluoride products throughout pregnancy.
If you have questions about fluoride and how it can be safely used to prevent cavities, this blog will serve as an overview. We also ask that our patients take a minute to read this statement from the American Dental Association.
Benefits of Fluoride Treatments for Children, Teenagers, and Adults
It is worth noting that the recent study pertains only to fluoride exposure during pregnancy. For 70 years, repeated studies have found that fluoride is a “safe and effective” treatment for preventing cavities, according to the American Dental Association. The Centers for Disease Control named fluoridated water as one of the “10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
Fluoride, often called “nature’s cavity fighter,” is responsible for preventing cavities in millions of children and adults in this country. Tooth decay remains a leading cause of tooth loss. Fluoride prevents cavities by hardening the outer surface of an individual’s teeth (enamel). This hardening makes the tooth more resistant to the acids that cause tooth decay. Fluoride can even rebuild weakened tooth enamel.
There are multiple ways that fluoride reaches our teeth. Many forms of toothpaste contain small amounts of fluoride. A majority of municipalities in the United States add fluoride to drinking water.
As a preventative treatment, Dr. Medina may recommend that fluoride is topically applied to your teeth. Special care will always be taken to ensure that a safe amount of fluoride is applied.
Treatment Guidelines for Pregnant Women
Based on the recent study, Dr. Medina recommends that women avoid all forms of fluoride treatments throughout pregnancy. As the report’s co-author Prof. Christine Till noted, “Based on the current evidence, it is a reasonable recommendation to tell women to reduce their fluoride intake during pregnancy. It’s a low-hanging-fruit recommendation to [protect] the safety of the fetus. That’s a no-brainer.”
If you are scheduled for an appointment at our Camden, Maine office and are pregnant, please notify our staff. Each member of our team has been updated with the new policy regarding fluoride treatments for pregnant women. It is also advisable that any of our pregnant patients avoid or reduce the use of tap water and fluoridated toothpaste if possible.
Even though I’ve lived in Maine for 25 years, I just found out that all of our water supply for Camden, Rockport, Rockland and Thomaston comes from Mirror Lake. As a dentist, I know and I can appreciate that they put fluoride in our drinking water. Knowledge is always changing and evolving, and we at Seasons of Smiles do all we can to keep current. Dr. Medina
Schedule Your Next Appointment Today
Seasons of Smiles is pro-fluoride. We accept the large body of evidence presented by numerous studies and reports that point to fluoride as an effective and safe tool in the fight against cavities. That being said, we respect our patients’ rights to decline fluoride treatments at our office. If you have any questions or concerns about fluoride treatment, please let Dr. Medina or one of our staff know. We are big believers in educating our patients on all aspects of our dental procedures, including fluoride treatments.
If you have questions about the safe use of fluoride or if you would like to schedule your next appointment, please contact our Camden, ME office online or call (207) 236-4740.