We have all seen the toothpaste adverts exclaiming about their special fluoride contents that strengthen enamel; we listened to the American Dental Association (ADA) continuously endorse fluoride treatments and water fluoridation as a safe and effective way to prevent tooth decay. For those of you who are “unfortunate” enough to live in a low fluoridated area, there are fluoride supplements for adults as well as children. Even many brands of bottled water are infusing fluoride as an extra bonus. Although it seems like we are blessed with such easily accessible fluoride sources, this substance may not be as beneficial as we are made to believe.
Firstly, we should be aware that fluoride is naturally present in water and foods at very low levels (.01 - .5ppm – parts per million). Concentrations about 2ppm begin to pose as a health risk. The ADA claims the “optimal” level for fluoride is between .7 – 1.2ppm. However, the actual content of fluoride in our drinking water can exceed this optimal level while even the EPA allows a maximum of 4ppm in public water supplies.
How much is too much of a “good” thing?
It is well known that high levels of fluoride can have harmful effects if the daily ingestion levels are too high. Dental fluorosis (see photo) is due to an overdose of fluoride and causes yellowing, white spotting, brown spotting, other color mottling, cracking and pitting of the teeth. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) has found an increase of the incidents of fluorosis in adults as well as children compared to several years ago. Skeletal fluorosis is another widely accepted condition of fluoride overdose. Severe and permanent bone and joint deformations can occur while the skeleton itself may become weaker and brittle resulting in fractures and bone breakage.
These chronic exposure conditions are not the only health issues associated with fluoride, but they are the only ones that the ADA and other fluoride proponents seem to accept regardless of a growing multitude of studies showing the potentially harmful effects of fluoride on the body. Some of the long-term and immediate toxicity effects found are as follows:
- Genetic and chromosomal damage
- Acceleration of aging process (collagen breakdown, enzyme inhibition, etc.)
- Immune system impairment
- Anti-oxidant defense impairment
- Electrolyte abnormalities (hypoglycemia, hyperkalemia, etc.)
- Gastrointestinal issues (pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, etc.)
- Neurological effects (headache, muscles weakness, spasms, seizures, etc.)
- In extremely toxic cases cardiac arrest, shock, and/or death
- Harmful effects on endocrine system
- Kidney and liver damage
- Promotion of cancer and tumor growth
- Damage to various brain areas
- Lowering of IQ
- Memory loss
- Increased uptake of aluminum
- Calcification of pineal gland
- Damage to prenatal bone, nervous system, and brain development
These effects were brought on by assorted levels of fluoride (sometimes as low as 1ppm), in different conditions, with various subjects. These are only a sampling of the plethora of research studies being conducted on this subject.
So is the benefit worth the risk?
To thoroughly answer this question, we need to examine the purported benefits. The main purpose of fluoride consumption is to prevent tooth decay and cavities by fortifying the enamel. This desired result is also under scrutiny by researchers. It seems that fluoride does have a thickening effect on bones by enhancing bone growth and mineralization. However, this thickening is not what it seems. Research shows that although these bones are thicker, they are, in fact, weaker than before. Focusing on teeth, the dental community seems to agree that fluoride’s benefits are mostly for the smooth surfaces of the teeth compared to the chewing surface (pits and fissures). The majority of cavities (80 – 90%) are found in these chewing areas, not the smooth surfaces. The ADA even claims that fluoride can not be expected to prevent decay in these areas, as sealants can. A national study comparing effects of persons with fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities have found little difference in tooth decay among participants while internationally, countries abstaining from fluoridation have still found decreases in dental decay.
In sum, the ADA vigorously pushes for the use of fluoride which seems to cause and/or promote a number of health problems. Fluoride is supposed to assist with teeth strengthening but seems to discolor and weaken the teeth in a variety of situations. For whatever benefits it may posses for cavity prevention, it does not seem to be effective in the highest-prone cavity areas of the teeth (not a surprise considering it sometimes creates these pits with high doses). Meanwhile, other non-fluoridated communities show no significant differences in tooth decay as compared to those with fluoridation.
So, why should I want to ingest fluoride considering all these risks and dubious benefits?
Good question. Personally, I really have no desire to ingest this substance at all considering the information I have dug up. It seems that more and more health professionals and establishments are opposing water fluoridation, although they are met with harsh criticism. Others are concerned with the ethical implications seeing water fluoridation as forced mass medication, as well as the deaths caused by over-fluoridation and malfunctions in water fluoridation equipment. Lawsuits have arisen targeting the cessation of fluoridation.
I have included resources at the bottom for anyone who desires a more intensive examination of the substance in question. If you decide you want an option in the fluoride you publicly consume they are several options you can choose, most of which can be found on this page… http://www.fluoridealert.org/action.htm
Anti-Fluoridation & Toxicology
Fluoride and the Brain
Fluoride and the Teeth
Fluoride Levels, General Info, and Neurotoxicity