The Washington Post Questions Fluoride

The following are excerpts from an article in the Washington Post highlighting how easy it is to overdose children on fluoride. The latest research also shows that children should only brush their teeth once a day to avoid fluoride overexposure. - remember this is from the Washington Post.


June 16, 1997

Toothpaste: How Safe?
Don Oldenburg,

Last month, as eight year-old Molly Statt stood in the bathroom brushing her teeth, something an the back of the large-size tube of Crest caught her attention. She stopped brushing.

Looking at her father standing beside her, she motioned at the toothpaste and asked, '"Is this poison?"

Of course not," Paul Stitt reassured his daughter.

"Then why does it say "poison" on it?" she asked.

Like most people, the Petersborough N.H., resident assumed that an over-the-counter health care product like toothpaste, which we are encouraged to put in our mouth "at least twice daily," must certainly be as safe as the water we drink. But it's not.

Research has shown that because they aren't yet in control of their swallowing reflex, children 4 to 6 years old typically swallow toothpaste when brushing. That's why it's recommended that kids get only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste," says Miskewitz, [Director of R&D for Oral Products at Arm & Hammer] "because most of that goes down their throats."

A 1995 study at the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry found that about half the children this age don't spit, out or rinse out- they swallow the toothpaste instead.

Making matters worse, they tend to use to much toothpaste on their own -especially when they use flavored children's toothpastes.

While the cavity-preventing effectiveness of fluoride has been demonstrated, too much fluoride not only can be dangerous, it can cause it condition known fluorosis that discolors or spots developing teeth. Research conducted by the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center concluded that brushing with more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste more than once daily contributed to most of the fluorosis cases it observed in young children.

In areas where the drinking water contains fluoride, children who swallow even the pea-sized amount of toothpaste are getting too much fluoride and are at risk for fluorosis.