Dentists promote it as a way to keep our teeth healthy and strong. It’s in practically every brand of toothpaste on the market and almost every US city and town adds it to their water systems in an effort to ensure good dental hygiene—at least that’s what we are told (1).
But is fluoride really safe?
Unfortunately, it depends on who you ask.
Fluoride is among one of many controversial additives in our food and water that studies show is not as healthy as we are led to believe. In fact, fluoride is downright dangerous, especially for children.
Have you ever wondered why there are implicit warnings on your toothpaste tube about allowing young children to use it? The reason is that fluoride can cause an array of serious health issues, and is even more poisonous than lead (2).
When it comes to fluoride, it’s not typically acute poisoning from a single high-level incident that causes concern for health advocates. It’s the continuous ingestion of the lower levels we are subjected to in our drinking water, whether we want it or not. And if you think that using bottled water is safer, think again. A vast number of bottled waters contain fluoride, even when all other additives are removed.
Did you know that close to 97 percent of the world does not add fluoride to their drinking water?
You heard that right -the US is one of the only countries that subjects people to fluoridated water. Why? We are told it is because fluoride is necessary to prevent tooth decay but the truth, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is that there is actually no real difference in the amount of tooth decay in developed countries compared to those that do not add fluoride to their water.
Any decline in tooth decay in the US in the last 60 years, is comparable to that in all developed countries. Better hygiene, fluoride toothpaste, and improved diet are the biggest determinants of declining tooth decay—not fluoride added to drinking water.
So, why is fluoride still being added to your water?
Interestingly, while fluoride is added to water to supposedly prevent tooth decay, this concept is based on an incident that occurred in the early 1900s, which ironically, also reveals the dangers of excessive fluoride in water.
In 1901, Frederick McKay, a recent dental school graduate, opened a practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Upon arriving in the pristine town, he quickly noticed that the majority of the people who had grown up in the town, had distinct brown stains and splotches on their teeth, some as dark as chocolate, and even covering the entire tooth.
At a loss for the phenomenon that did not appear in neighboring townsfolks, Dr. McKay persuaded the Colorado State Dental Association to bring Dr. Green Vardiman Black, a renowned dental researcher at the time, to the 1909 convention where McKay presented his findings on the subject, which included a study by the Colorado Springs Dental Society showing that almost 90 percent of the city’s locally born children had signs of the brown stains. Even more surprising was that fact that while the teeth of the Colorado Springs’ population were badly discolored, they oddly enough, lacked any decay. Intrigued, Black agreed to look into the matter further and the two men began what would ultimately take decades to unravel, although their research would become the cornerstone of modern day fluoridation beliefs.
After years of theories and testing, it was revealed that the water source for the town contained natural fluoride. And while the fluoride prevented tooth decay in the population, the high levels in the water also caused a condition known as fluorosis, which is characterized by extreme discoloration of the tooth enamel (3).
Ultimately, researchers determined that by adding fluoride to the public water system, they could prevent widespread tooth decay. Today, studies show that fluoridated water is directly or indirectly responsible for 40 percent of all cases of fluorosis (4).
Despite this and other studies that reveal the other negative effects caused by fluoride, as of 2012, it was still being added to 74.4 percent of all drinking water sources in the United States (5).
How Does Fluoride Affect You?
While the vast majority of the population is led to believe that consuming fluoride (as we do in our drinking water), only affects your dental health, research clearly shows fluoride is “an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar levels (6).
Currently, there are more 300 studies linking fluoride to brain damage (7). Many of these studies even show fluoride can cause lower IQ in children. It’s true: a study by Harvard University researchers in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that children who live in areas with highly fluoridated water have “significantly lower” IQ scores than those who live in low fluoride areas (8).
Because of this and other studies, many well-respected dentists currently advise parents not to use fluoridated water in baby formula.
In general, fluoride is linked to (9):
- Increased lead absorption
- Disrupted synthesis of collagen
- Hyperactivity and/or lethargy
- Muscle disorders
- Thyroid disease
- Bone fractures
- Bone cancer (osteosarcoma)
- Inactivation of 62 enzymes and inhibition of over 100 others
- Inhibited formation of antibodies
- Genetic damage and cell death
- Disrupted immune system
- Damaged sperm and increased infertility
- Increased tumor and cancer rate
Fluoride proponents claim fluoride is a naturally occurring substance found in many areas across the US, as such, it must be safe. But not every natural substance is safe. Many of the world’s most deadly poisons are “natural:” Botox, arsenic, mercury, polonium, snake and other animal venoms, just to name a few (10).
And even if this logic was true, the fluoride added to most drinking water supplies is not the naturally occurring type. Shockingly, it is fluorosilicic acid, which is a waste product resulting from the phosphate fertilizer industry. A powdered version of this chemical called sodium fluorosilicate and sodium fluoride is more toxic than rat poison. It is heavily contaminated with toxins and heavy metals, including arsenic, lead and cadmium, as well as a number of radioactive materials (11). Another form of fluoride used is hydrofluoric acid, which is a compound of fluorine and is a chemical by-product of aluminum, steel, cement, phosphate, and nuclear weapons manufacturing (12).