By Dr Candice Schwartz, cosmetic and paediatric dentist.
Because fluoride is already abundant in the drinking water and many foods we consume daily, is it necessary to give your child fluoridated toothpaste too?
Fluoride is present in almost all food and water to some degree. Lack of fluoride in the diet can affect the teeth adversely and result in an increased susceptibility to dental decay. Having said that, daily overexposure to fluoride can result in a condition called “Dental Fluorosis” coupled with a higher risk of bone fractures.
“A child weighing 10kg can suffer symptoms of acute toxicity by ingesting just 1-3mg of flouride in a single sitting.”
Flouride has the potential to be toxic to the body. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that all fluoride toothpastes sold in the United States bear the following poison warning:
“WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control centre immediately.”
Flouride can have an acute toxic effect if ingested in a large single dose. A child weighing 10kg can suffer symptoms of acute toxicity by ingesting just 1-3mg of fluoride in a single sitting. But more concerning is that fluoride has the potential to poison the body with its cumulative toxicity effects (with time, the more fluoride ingested, the more the compound accumulates as the body is not able to eliminate the toxins). When fluoride is ingested and accumulates it becomes “stored” in the pineal gland of the brain.
Why is this concerning?
The pineal gland is the central controller of all endocrine glands, therefore controlling the endocrine system (the body’s hormonal system). It also secretes a hormone called melatonin, which controls your circadian rhythm – the sleep-wake cycle. Mystics believe the pineal gland is the home of your ‘third eye’ and possess psychic properties; it is said to be the seat of soul. When sunlight enters the eyes, it is directly stored in the pineal gland. When fluoride is ingested continuously in large quantities, the pineal gland can become calcified, inhibiting its function as a melatonin producer.
This has potential negative side effects on a person’s sleep-wake cycle, which can lead to a cascade of potentially harmful side effects. “In point of fact, fluoride causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster than any other chemical.” Dr Dean Burk (PhD – 34 years at the national cancer institute).
What is a parent to do?
The majority of commercial brand toothpastes contain fluoride in high quantities. It’s time to switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste for your children (and hopefully yourself too). Many alternative brand toothpastes (that are free of fluoride) contain xylitol, a sugar alcohol found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It is extracted from corn or birch wood and forms a sweet tasting, granular substance.
The addition of xylitol to many dental products (ranging from toothpastes to mouth rinses) has increased in popularity in recent years because of its natural antibacterial properties. Xylitol creates a shift in the types and number of bacteria present in the mouth when used regularly. As a result, dental plaque and dental decay are reduced in both adults and children when oral hygiene products containing xylitol are used.
Xylitol is not only effective in toothpastes, but it can also be used as an alternative to sugar. Xylitol does not cause dental decay and it tastes just as good as sugar! Below is a xylitol meringue recipe that parents can experiment with. Xylitol meringues can be added to your child’s lunchbox and eaten during the day as a sweet alternative.
Yields: 150 kisses, each with 1 gram of xylitol
These are bite‐sized sweets that are baked like cookies in a very low-temperature oven. As with all egg white-based confections, you will have better results if you make these on a bright, clear day with low humidity.
2 large egg whites
A pinch of salt
A pinch of cream of tartar
1 cup xylitol granules (200 grams)
Electric hand mixer or table mixer
2 baking sheets
- Preheat the oven* to 80‐85°C. Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer on med/high speed until they are foamy.
- Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
- Beat in the xylitol, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue beating for about 8 minutes.
- Pipe using a piping bag (or plastic packet with the corner cut) or spoon onto the prepared baking paper sheets. Leave a little peak at the top of each meringue. Each one should be 2cm in diameter.
- Allow the kisses to bake for 90 minutes. Turn off the heat, prop open the oven door, and let cool completely in the oven for about 8‐12 hours (overnight) to set.
- Peel the cooled kisses off the baking paper and store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
*If the oven is too hot, the meringues will turn brown, try not to exceed 90°C.
Give your child a meringue after meals. This will help to prevent dental decay and keep their mouth healthy and free of bacteria. These work very well in school lunch boxes as a healthy treat.
Recipe courtesy Dr Angela Gilhespie (Teeth for Life).