Childhood Tea Drinking May Increase Fluorosis Risk

Childhood Tea Drinking May Increase Fluorosis Risk
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Green tea consumption may help prevent cavities, but excessive consumption among young children may lead to dental fluorosis, due to the natural fluoride content of the plant.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

If cranberries are so good at keeping bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder, what about keeping bacteria from sticking to other places? Well, there’s in vitro research suggesting cranberry phytonutrients may reduce adhesion of H. pylori bacteria to the wall of the stomach, and so maybe should be given, along with antibiotics, to help eradicate this ulcer-causing bacteria.

And hey, what about our teeth? Our dental plaque is bacteria sticking to our teeth—particularly Streptococcus mutans. We’ve known that those with different drinking habits—be they coffee, tea, barley coffee, or wine—have about ten times less of this plaque bacteria. Since those are all beverages from plants, maybe phytonutrients are fighting back at plaque.

If bacteria cause plaque and cavities, why not just swish with some antibiotic solution, either synthetic or natural? Well, there are downsides to just indiscriminately wiping out bacteria, both good and bad, as I detailed in my antiseptic mouthwash video. So, maybe if we just stop the bad bugs from sticking to our teeth?

Well, there is some evidence that cranberries might affect the adhesion of bacteria to fake teeth in a petri dish, but nothing yet definitive. Green tea also appears to help prevent cavities, which may be because of its natural fluoride content from the tea plant. I have a video about a woman who developed fluoride toxicity, drinking up to like five dozen cups a day. But, what about just regular consumption?

Well, during the tooth development years, up to about age nine, children exposed to too much fluoride can develop dental fluorosis—a mottled discoloration of the teeth. It’s just a cosmetic issue, and usually just kind of faint white spots, but is the main reason the EPA is reconsidering current tap water fluoridation levels.

Currently, the suggested upper limit in water is 2 parts per million of fluoride, and the mandatory upper limit is 4. Herbal teas were fine; about a hundred-fold under this limit. But, caffeinated teas exceeded the suggested limit, and decaf teas exceeded the mandatory limit.

Remember, though, that’s the limit for tap water. So, tea drinking would only pose much of a risk if kids drank it all day long as their primary beverage. So, in terms of the dental ramifications, kids who primarily drank non-herbal tea as a source of hydration may be at risk for dental fluorosis.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Nicole Lee and Dozenist via Wikimedia

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

If cranberries are so good at keeping bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder, what about keeping bacteria from sticking to other places? Well, there’s in vitro research suggesting cranberry phytonutrients may reduce adhesion of H. pylori bacteria to the wall of the stomach, and so maybe should be given, along with antibiotics, to help eradicate this ulcer-causing bacteria.

And hey, what about our teeth? Our dental plaque is bacteria sticking to our teeth—particularly Streptococcus mutans. We’ve known that those with different drinking habits—be they coffee, tea, barley coffee, or wine—have about ten times less of this plaque bacteria. Since those are all beverages from plants, maybe phytonutrients are fighting back at plaque.

If bacteria cause plaque and cavities, why not just swish with some antibiotic solution, either synthetic or natural? Well, there are downsides to just indiscriminately wiping out bacteria, both good and bad, as I detailed in my antiseptic mouthwash video. So, maybe if we just stop the bad bugs from sticking to our teeth?

Well, there is some evidence that cranberries might affect the adhesion of bacteria to fake teeth in a petri dish, but nothing yet definitive. Green tea also appears to help prevent cavities, which may be because of its natural fluoride content from the tea plant. I have a video about a woman who developed fluoride toxicity, drinking up to like five dozen cups a day. But, what about just regular consumption?

Well, during the tooth development years, up to about age nine, children exposed to too much fluoride can develop dental fluorosis—a mottled discoloration of the teeth. It’s just a cosmetic issue, and usually just kind of faint white spots, but is the main reason the EPA is reconsidering current tap water fluoridation levels.

Currently, the suggested upper limit in water is 2 parts per million of fluoride, and the mandatory upper limit is 4. Herbal teas were fine; about a hundred-fold under this limit. But, caffeinated teas exceeded the suggested limit, and decaf teas exceeded the mandatory limit.

Remember, though, that’s the limit for tap water. So, tea drinking would only pose much of a risk if kids drank it all day long as their primary beverage. So, in terms of the dental ramifications, kids who primarily drank non-herbal tea as a source of hydration may be at risk for dental fluorosis.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Nicole Lee and Dozenist via Wikimedia

Doctor's Note

What may be the best source of hydration for kids? See Does a Drink of Water Make Children Smarter?

Might tea also cause dehydration? Check out Is Caffeinated Tea Dehydrating?

Beyond cosmetic issues, what should we eat and drink to keep our mouth healthy? See Plant-Based Diets: Oral Health and Plant-Based Diets: Dental Health.

What was that about cranberries keeping bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder? See Can Cranberry Juice Treat Bladder Infections?

The mouthwash video I reference is: Don’t Use Antiseptic Mouthwash, and the fluoride toxicity case report is covered in Overdosing on Tea.

What about all those folks who say fluoride is a poison, to be avoided at all costs? I offer my brief two cents in my Q&A The dangers of fluoride (tap water fluoridation)? 

And, there are elements for which there is no safe level of exposure. I explore a few in my next video, Fukushima & Radioactivity in Seafood.

For further context, check out my associated blog post: Tea & Fluoride Risk.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

30 responses to “Childhood Tea Drinking May Increase Fluorosis Risk

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  1. What do you think of fluoride in toothpaste? Do you think we should stop using fluoride containing toothpastes? What do recent studies show? Thank you!

  2. Hang on, are Yamanaka et al concluding that cranberry juice selectively inhibits adhesion of pathogenic bacteria but not beneficial bacteria?

  3. Fluoridation Opposition is Scientific,Respectable & Growing

    Over 4,600 professionals (including 365 dentists and 566 MD’s) urge that fluoridation be stopped because science shows fluoridation is ineffective and harmful. See statement: http://www.fluoridealert.org/researchers/professionals-statement/text/

    Nobel Prizewinner in Medicine, Dr. Arvid Carlsson, says, “Fluoridation is against all principles of modern pharmacology. It’s really obsolete.”

  4. To me the most logical way to defend against tooth decay to defend against tooth decay is to gargle with white tea sweetened with Xylitol.

  5. So what is a person looking to avoid all fluoride but want the benefits of tea to do?!

    Are you sure this isn’t just a result of boiling the water? As that is known to concentrate fluoride somewhat.

  6. I would recommend both fluorinated water and toothpaste. A lot of drinking water naturally has fluoride in it. I believe this was part of how we learned it was good for our teeth. The areas which naturally had fluoride in the water had better teeth. The countries which add fluoride to their water have much better dentition and do have worse health problems for it. So yes, I would say the benefits outweigh the risk.

    NurseKelly
    Moderator

    1. Do you have citations to back up your claims or are you just parroting the American Dental Association marketing materials? Are you familiar with the Fluoride Alert Network?

  7. The American Dental Association is a non-profit organization with no motivation other than to bring the truth to light, and has reviewed the peer-reviewed literature at great length to determine these facts. The overwhelming body of literature clearly points to the fact that minuscule amounts of ingested fluoride in childhood reduce tooth decay tremendously with no increased risk of disease. If you think about it, if the ADA lacked objectivity and integrity, they would be recommending cessation of all fluoride intake which would increase tooth decay and increase the work load of dentists which is where a lot of their funding comes from. What could the gain possibly be by “poisoning the population with fluoride”? I can’t think of any. Dr. G is objective and simply brings us the unbiased peer-reviewed literature which he has in the case. If you’re aware of peer-reviewed literature to the contrary, feel free to site it here as we’d like to see it. We all want to know the facts.

    Dr. Ben

    1. Your patronizing attitude does not move the discussion forward. How do you respond to papers such as,

      Hirzy, J. W., Connett, P., Xiang, Q., Spittle, B. J., & Kennedy, D. C. (2016). Developmental neurotoxicity of fluoride: A quantitative risk analysis towards establishing a safe daily dose of fluoride for children. Fluoride, 49(4), 379-400.

      ?

  8. Your citation represents a poorly executed study, by an obscure organization that operates for the most part in countries that are either 3rd world, corrupt or war torn, and have no obligation to reveal their true agenda or funding source. For $25, I could create the same type of non-profit organization and “publish” anything. Why would any researcher publish an important paper in a journal like this? So they can avoid the objective eyes of real researchers that will expose their sham research for what it is and deny publication. Luckily there are objective researchers watching. Here is one critique by Dr. Perrott:

    IQ deficits in areas of endemic fluorosis have been associated with high drinking water fluoride concentrations. Some authors use these reports to claim neurological effects also occur at the low drinking water fluoride concentrations typical of community water fluoridation. Published research does not support these claims, but a recent study used data from an area of endemic fluorosis to calculate a safe dose for dietary fluoride levels relevant to areas where community water fluoridation is used. The main study these authors relied on for their dose-response data did not show either that drinking water fluoride is the direct major factor involved in measured IQ deficits or properly rule out effects due to confounders or effects due to fluorosis. The reported association of IQ deficits with drinking water fluoride concentration used only six data pairs obtained from a somewhat unusual partition of the raw data and calculation of mean values for each partition. There was no indication of the statistical significance or explanatory power of any relationship of IQ with water fluoride for the raw data. Lack of evidence that drinking water fluoride at low concentrations is a major direct factor influencing IQ,insufficient investigation of possible confounders and considering only the means for concentration ranges rather than drinking water concentration and IQ values at individual levels means the “safe dose” estimated by these authors is unsupported and speculative

    Does drinking water fluoride influence IQ? A critique of Hirzy et al. (2016) (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315454880_Does_drinking_water_fluoride_influence_IQ_A_critique_of_Hirzy_et_al_2016 [accessed Jan 12 2018].

  9. Suppose we assume that the benefits of water fluoridation outweigh the risks. Here’s a study that points out that the implementation of water fluoridation leaves much to be desired,

    Comparison of hydrofluorosilicic acid and pharmaceutical sodium fluoride as fluoridating agents—A cost–benefit analysis

    Water fluoridation programs in the United States and other countries which have them use either sodium fluoride (NaF), hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFSA) or the sodium salt of that acid (NaSF), all technical grade chemicals to adjust the fluoride level in drinking water to about 0.7–1 mg/L. In this paper we estimate the comparative overall cost for U.S. society between using cheaper industrial grade HFSA as the principal fluoridating agent versus using more costly pharmaceutical grade (U.S. Pharmacopeia – USP) NaF. USP NaF is used in toothpaste. HFSA, a liquid, contains significant amounts of arsenic (As). HFSA and NaSF have been shown to leach lead (Pb) from water delivery plumbing, while NaF has been shown not to do so. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) health-based drinking water standards for As and Pb are zero. Our focus was on comparing the social costs associated with the difference in numbers of cancer cases arising from As during use of HFSA as fluoridating agent versus substitution of USP grade NaF. We calculated the amount of As delivered to fluoridated water systems using each agent, and used EPA Unit Risk values for As to estimate the number of lung and bladder cancer cases associated with each. We used cost of cancer cases published by EPA to estimate cost of treating lung and bladder cancer cases. Commercial prices of HFSA and USP NaF were used to compare costs of using each to fluoridate. We then compared the total cost to our society for the use of HFSA versus USP NaF as fluoridating agent. The U.S. could save $1 billion to more than $5 billion/year by using USP NaF in place of HFSA while simultaneously mitigating the pain and suffering of citizens that result from use of the technical grade fluoridating agents. Other countries, such as Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and Australia that use technical grade fluoridating agents may realize similar benefits by making this change. Policy makers would have to confront the uneven distribution of costs and benefits across societies if this change were made.

    1. On a personal level, I agree that generalized water fluoridation is likely not the optimal method to protect our children’s teeth and everyone’s general health. It’s a “shot-gun” approach.

      Dr. Ben

      1. Yeah, polluters get legal cover to unload toxic waste at a profit. But let’s go back and re-examine the purported benefits. Data from WHO show that Decayed, Missing & Filled teeth (DMFT) has declined from 1970 to 2010 for both fluoridated AND non-fluoridated countries (source). Are you aware of any publications that show a significant benefit from fluoridated water in populations that already benefit from dental care education and regular dental checkups? I am not. I mean, the effect size of fluoridated water would have to be small because the DMFT is already near the floor of zero. My speculation is that the benefit of fluoride is mostly apparent for populations that have poor dental care education and no dentists. So .. does water fluoridation really deserve to be one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements? Really?

      2. “I agree that generalized water fluoridation is likely not the optimal method” — So why don’t dentists prescribe pharma-grade fluoride supplement tablets with dosage carefully calibrated to the needs of the patient? That’s what doctors do with all other medicine, correct? Ah, well, fluoride supplement are not FDA approved. In fact, the FDA issued a warning letter to Kirkman Laboratories in 2016 to cease production of such supplements. The Fluoride Action Network followed up with a petition to the FDA to ask them to ban all manufacturers from producing fluoride supplements instead of only Kirkman Laboratories. I’m not sure about the current status of this petition.

        1. FDA approval doesn’t necessarily weigh all facts and it’s subject to statute and politics, so just because something is FDA approved, does not mean it IS truly safe and effective, and by the same token, if something is not FDA approved, it does not mean that it is NOT safe and effective.
          Broccoli is not FDA approved either, but….(you get the idea).
          Quantification of the hazard and risk vs. benefit is important. As an example, we know for a fact that x-ray exposure causes cancer, so everyone is scared about getting dental xrays, but the amount of x-ray exposure from a full mouth digital x-ray scan is about the same radiation received from being INDOORS for a day. Is it ok to take an xray scan like that every day?
          Probably not. Is it much of a risk once every two years? Probably not. But if someone with a high rate of dental decay doesn’t get these xrays then they are at risk for untreated decay that can kill them, so the benefit of the x-ray outweighs the risk of the cancer from the x-ray. Same for risks and benefits apply to fluoride. Since the ADA has no motivation to poison the public with fluoride, I ascribe to the mainstream peer-reviewed public literature which I consider unbiased and shows that it works and is safe, even though public water fluoridation might not be the best route. Lastly, I personally know some of the reviewers and some of the authors on these papers. They’re just regular guys and gals like Dr. G and me, trying to figure out the truth; not a coven of sinister hooded figures in some dimly lit back room planning on poisoning the population and taking over the world. As I cited previously, every “research” paper I’ve seen from these “alternative” sites is of questionable authority in the extreme to the point that I find it a waste of time to read. There are just so many hours in the day to review published literature, so I stick with those that have an excellent reputation and have no obvious bias. On the other hand, Dr. G has pointed out numerous cases of bias in the mainstream literature which I take very seriously (sodium vs. hypertension and carb intake vs diabetes to name two). I would be very interested if you can come up with the same type of bias in the mainstream fluoride literature. I just don’t see it.

          Dr. Ben

          Virus-free.
          http://www.avg.com

          1. “FDA approval doesn’t necessarily weigh all facts and it’s subject to statute and politics, so just because something is FDA approved, does not mean it IS truly safe and effective, and by the same token, if something is not FDA approved, it does not mean that it is NOT safe and effective.” — Of course I agree, but if some medication is added to the water supply, isn’t it surprising that the same medication is not FDA approved and cannot legally be sold as a tablet supplement?

            “As I cited previously, every “research” paper I’ve seen from these “alternative” sites is of questionable authority in the extreme to the point that I find it a waste of time to read.” — Specifically which paper are you complaining about? I cited WHO data on the FAN website, but this is easy to cross check against the same data on the WHO website (well, Malmo University). My point is that the benefit of fluoride ingestion cannot be large because there is very little incremental benefit possible after the application of other means of good dental care.

            “the ADA has no motivation to poison the public with fluoride” — As I suggested, the water fluoridation policy may be the result of political pressure from companies trying to get rid of waste hydrofluorosilicic acid. Perhaps there is some faint evidence of benefit from fluoride ingestion, but I can imagine no reason to ingest low grade hydrofluorosilicic acid with all the additional contaminants.

            “if someone with a high rate of dental decay doesn’t get these xrays then they are at risk for untreated decay that can kill them, so the benefit of the x-ray outweighs the risk of the cancer from the x-ray. Same for risks and benefits apply to fluoride.” — Sure, I’m not claiming that there is no benefit to ingestion of fluoride. But the benefit is certainly not clear enough to add fluoride to the water supply. Those people with favorable risk/benefit profiles for fluoride ingestion can be given the correct dosage of fluoride, assuming that fluoride can eventually be FDA approved.

            1. You have some good points.

              I can’t see the waste dumping arguments though. If there was a real cost/profit benefit to all this, then I could see it. The term “industrial waste” makes for a great spooky narrative with all that it implies, but even if the “waste” is recycled this way, is it really harmful at the ridiculously high dilutions we’re talking about? With my x-ray analogy, I pointed out that we are bombarded with natural toxins and radiation constantly, that our physiology is perfectly able to handle, so 1 part per quintillion of uranium in our water supply is probably there, but probably safe. If there are toxins in the fluoride “waste”, and it’s put in the water supply, it doesn’t really seem significant.

              The FDA approval is pretty simple in that it’s horrendously expensive (about $2M USD) to submit an “NDA” to get a drug approved which is probably why it didn’t get approved. In my surgical field we have plenty of FDA approved devices that claim they are effective, yet are not, so I have zero faith in FDA approval as an indication of efficacy.

              As far as reduced rates of decay regardless of fluoridation, I simply don’t know so can’t speak to that. If it’s true, I’m sure curious what the underlying mechanisms are. At this point I think it’s a political and academic argument. I think Dr. G recommends drinking tap water, but I don’t. It tastes nasty.

              Dr. Ben

              Virus-free.
              http://www.avg.com

              1. “With my x-ray analogy, I pointed out that we are bombarded with natural toxins and radiation constantly, that our physiology is perfectly able to handle, so 1 part per quintillion of uranium in our water supply is probably there” — Your x-ray analogy doesn’t work here because there is a likely medical diagnostic benefit for x-rays but there is only harm from hydrofluorosilicic acid contaminants. Uranium isn’t the contaminant of interest either. It’s arsenic, and the paper I cited claims that the concentrations involved do have serious health consequences. Why do municipalities mostly use hydrofluorosilicic acid instead of pharmaceutical grade NaF? What do you think? It’s not for health reasons. “The term “industrial waste” makes for a great spooky narrative with all that it implies” — Yeah and that’s what is going on, as far as I can tell.

              2. Anyway, my goal here is to exhibit enough evidence to prompt Dr Greger to cease lauding water fluoridation. I know Dr G is very busy with more exciting research topics like marijuana, but at least he could say that serious questions have been raised about water fluoridation and careful study is needed (instead of uncritically echoing the CDC’s top 10 list story).

                1. It’s certainly up to you and this is the place to do it. In the mean time, you might just want to drink bottled water as the solution :)

                  Dr. Ben

                  1. Or get a water filter that removes fluoride. -Better for the environment and your wallet and it removes all the other contaminants from tap water. I wanted to remove fluoride due to concerns for thyroid health after learning that fluoride was given to patients with hyperthyroidism to reduce their thyroid function. Here’s a review: https://thesafehealthyhome.com/best-countertop-gravity-water-filter-systems-review/ I have had the Propur for 6 years now and am very happy with it.

  10. Prenatal Fluoride Exposure and Cognitive Outcomes in Children at 4 and 6–12 Years of Age in Mexico

    Background: Some evidence suggests that fluoride may be neurotoxic to children. Few of the epidemiologic studies have been longitudinal, had individual measures of fluoride exposure, addressed the impact of prenatal exposures or involved more than 100 participants.
    Objective: Our aim was to estimate the association of prenatal exposure to fluoride with offspring neurocognitive development.
    Methods: We studied participants from the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) project. An ion-selective electrode technique was used to measure fluoride in archived urine samples taken from mothers during pregnancy and from their children when 6–12 y old, adjusted for urinary creatinine and specific gravity, respectively. Child intelligence was measured by the General Cognitive Index (GCI) of the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities at age 4 and full scale intelligence quotient (IQ) from the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) at age 6–12.
    Results: We had complete data on 299 mother–child pairs, of whom 287 and 211 had data for the GCI and IQ analyses, respectively. Mean (SD) values for urinary fluoride in all of the mothers (n=299) and children with available urine samples (n=211) were 0.90 (0.35) mg/L and 0.82 (0.38) mg/L, respectively. In multivariate models we found that an increase in maternal urine fluoride of 0.5mg/L (approximately the IQR) predicted 3.15 (95% CI: −5.42, −0.87) and 2.50 (95% CI −4.12, −0.59) lower offspring GCI and IQ scores, respectively.
    Conclusions: In this study, higher prenatal fluoride exposure, in the general range of exposures reported for other general population samples of pregnant women and nonpregnant adults, was associated with lower scores on tests of cognitive function in the offspring at age 4 and 6–12 y.

    1. More: Our findings add to our team’s recently published report on prenatal fluoride and cognition at ages 4 and 6–12 years by suggesting that higher in utero exposure to F has an adverse impact on offspring cognitive development that can be detected earlier, in the first three years of life.

      http://oem.bmj.com/content/75/Suppl_1/A10.1

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