Since its introduction in 1942, fluoride has been used by dentists to help fight and prevent tooth decay. However, its benefits in oral health does come with some risks. Fluoride can be found in tooth paste, mouth rinse, varnishes, drinking water, and food. Some adverse affects are cosmetic, like causing white spots on teeth, while some are more serious and can cause skeletal malformations, decreased IQ, fractures, severe dental fluorosis, and bone cancer.
But dentists believe that the benefits of fluoride for oral health is well worth the risks. Fluoride prevents tooth decay by slowing down the bacteria that causes it. It also works with tooth enamel to make teeth stronger and more resistant to decay. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even named water fluoridation one of the “Ten Great Public Health Interventions of the 20th Century.”