10 Facts You Should Know About Fluoride

Is fluoride in drinking water really the ideal solution for dental disease? If so, why is it that the US is the only one of the developed countries that fluoridates its drinking water? Is it because other countries realize that adding fluoride to the water supply is not a great idea?

Fluoridation of drinking water has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years - and the issue is heating up as people begin to demand water that does not expose them to toxic levels of fluoride.

Here are 10 facts about fluoride you should know: 

  1. Most developed countries do not fluoridate their water. More people drink fluoridated water in the US than in the rest of the world combined. For instance, 97% of the population of western Europe drinks non-fluoridated water.
  2. Countries with fluoridated water do NOT have less tooth decay than countries with non-fluoridated water. According to the WHO, there is no difference in tooth decay between developed countries that fluoridate their water and those that do not. The decline in tooth decay seen in the US over the last 60 years - which is often attributed to fluoridated water - has occurred in all developed countries, most of which do not fluoridate their water.
  3. Fluoride affects more than just your teeth. According to a 500-page scientific review, fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar levels. There have been over 34 human studies and 100 animal studies linking fluoride to brain damage, including lower IQ in children. Further, studies have shown that fluoride toxicity can lead to a wide variety of health problems, including thyroid disease, hyperactivity, muscle disorders, arthritis, dementia, bone fractures, bone cancer, disruptions to the immune system and infertility.
  4. Fluoridation is not a "natural" process. Fluoride occurs naturally in some areas, leading to high levels in certain water supplies. Fluoridation advocates often use this fact to show that fluoride is safe - however, not all naturally occurring substances are automatically safe. Not only that, the fluoride added to most water supplies is fluorosilicic acid, which is captured in air pollution control devices of the phosphate fertilizer industry. This captured fluoride acid may pose additional health risks to those presented by natural fluorides - including a possible cancer hazard from the acid's elevated arsenic content and a possible neurotoxic hazard from the acid's ability to increase the erosion of lead from old pipes.
  5. An estimated 40% of American teenagers show signs of fluoride overexposure. They have dental fluorosis, a condition that refers to changes in the appearance of tooth enamel caused by long-term ingestion of fluoride. In some areas, fluorosis rates are as high as 70-80%, likely because children ingest large amounts of fluoride not only from drinking water but also from fluoride toothpaste, processed beverages and foods, fluoride pesticides, tea, non-stick pans and some fluorinated drugs. Dental fluorosis is an indication that bones and internal organs including the brain have been overexposed to fluoride as well.
  6. Fluoridated water provides no benefits, only risks for infants. Infants who consume formula made with fluoridated tap water may consume up to 100 times more fluoride than the recommended amounts. A Harvard University meta-analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded that children who live in areas with highly fluoridated water have "significantly lower" IQ scores than those who live in low fluoride areas.
  7. Fluoride supplements have never been approved by the FDA for the prevention of tooth decay. In fact, the fluoride supplements that the FDA has reviewed have been rejected. So with fluoridation, a prescription-strength dose of a drug that has never been approved by the FDA is being added to the drinking water supply.
  8. Fluoride is the only medicine added to public water. It is added to drinking water to prevent tooth decay, and as such becomes a medicine by FDA definition. Many European nations have rejected fluoride for the reason that delivering medication via the water supply is inappropriate and unethical, because it is a form of mass medication that denies their citizens the right to informed consent.
  9. Fluoride's only benefit comes from topical contact with teeth, as acknowledged even by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Adding it to water and pills to be swallowed offers little to no benefit to teeth.
  10. Fluoride toxicity is made worse by conditions that occur much more frequently in low-income areas - these include nutrient deficiencies, infant formula consumption, kidney disease and diabetes. In fact, many low-income urban communities have severe oral health crises despite decades of water fluoridation - and the millions of dollars spent each year promoting fluoridation would be better spent on policies that provide affordable dental care to populations with little access to dentists. In short, fluoridation is nothing but bad medicine for those it's supposedly meant to serve.

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