My turn: Flouride discolored our kid's teeth

Posted: Monday, September 17, 2007

We are writing regarding the fluoride issue that is on the Oct. 2 Juneau municipal ballot. Our family has a personal experience that we would like to share.

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Our younger daughter was born in Juneau in 1985 and was raised here. Fluoride was promoted as beneficial, and we trusted that it was safe. Imagine our shock when her pediatrician said that she had fluorosis. As you may know, fluorosis is characterized by (mottled) teeth that are marked with blotches of uneven color from white to yellow, and in the worst cases the teeth are brown. Although her condition of fluorosis is not the worst that we have seen, to her it was very noticeable. Growing up, she went to great efforts to control her smile and not show her teeth. Fluorosis still affects her self-esteem to this day.

How much fluoride does it take to cause fluorosis? The amount recommended to be "beneficial" in our Juneau community drinking water caused her fluorosis. Why do some people have this condition while others do not? Perhaps she is more sensitive to the effects of fluoride or perhaps she drank more water than others or both. She was young, vulnerable and didn't have a choice.

Current research indicates that it is not a good idea to ingest fluoride in any amount, especially for the very young and senior populations. Check fluoride toothpaste labels and you will be surprised. Here are some quotes.

"Active ingredient sodium fluoride 0.243 percent, Warnings: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away. Do not swallow. To minimize swallowing use a pea-sized amount in children under 6."

A fluoride dental rinse package says "Sodium fluoride 0.05 percent warnings Keep out of reach of children. If more than used for rinsing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away. Pour 10 milliliters (10 mL mark on inside cap), do not fill above 10 mL mark, do not swallow the rinse. Do not drink for 30 minutes after rinsing. Instruct children under 12 years of age in good rinsing habits (to minimize swallowing)."

Our hope is that the Juneau municipality will continue not to fluoridate our drinking water. Families that choose to use fluoride have several options for topical treatments such as fluoride toothpaste, fluoride dental rinses and other fluoride treatments by a dental professional. Our family does not want to swallow fluoride in our drinking water, and we will vote "NO" on proposition 2. No municipal waterfluoridation!

• Chris and Martin Niemi are Douglas residents. Chris recently joined the Juneau Citizens for Safe Water.

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