With more and more countries choosing not to fluoridate their water, we have to ask why cities across the US still routinely add fluoride to their drinking water supplies. Dr Paul Connett, who is the director of the Fluoride Action Network, and co-author of The Case Against Fluoride, has put together a comprehensive argument supporting the need for citizens who care for their health to challenge this.
1. Fluoride has no nutritional value - the human body does not require fluoride to meet any of its dietary needs.
2. Fluoride levels in breast milk is very low. Babies fed with formula made with tap water receive as much as 175-250 times as much fluoride than breast-fed babies.
3. Children in countries who fluoridate their water are being over-dosed with fluoride; there is a high incidence of dental fluorosis -- in the US, 41% of children between the age of 12-15 have been diagnosed with dental fluorosis.
4. Fluoride is a known toxin -- even low levels of exposure can pose health risks.
5. When drinking water is treated with fluoride authorities cannot control the dosage people receive -- everyone who drinks the water is exposed, no matter what their age or weight may be, and regardless of their health status or nutritional needs.
6. Adding fluoride to public drinking water equates to forced medication, and violates a basic human right as no consent has been given by each and every individual affected.
7. Fluoride that is ingested with drinking water builds up in the calcified tissue within the body and can cause calcium poisoning over time. Victims typically experience symptoms very similar to arthritis, and bones may also become brittle making them prone to fracturing more readily.
8. Many countries have opted not to fluoridate their drinking water, and according to WHO, the incidence of tooth decay in children is dropping at the same rate or faster in countries that don't add fluoride to their water compared to countries that do.
9. There have never been any randomized control trials conducted that effectively demonstrate that ingesting fluoride will reduce the likelihood of tooth decay.
10. There is very little evidence to support the notion that orally ingesting fluoride will prevent dental cavities, and the little evidence there is, is very weak.
11. Oral health practitioners around the world agree that the benefits fluoride offers in terms of dental health is achieved through topical application as apposed to systemic absorption of fluoride.
12. Fluoridation of drinking water was initiated to combat a disease (dental cavities), yet fluoride has never been officially approved as a drug by the US Food and Drug Administration, who still have it classified as an "unapproved drug".
Water fluoridation continues to be a contentious health issue, with many disputing the notion that fluoride provides oral health benefits when it is ingested and suggesting that the opposite is true. In fact, due to health, ethical and legal implications, many countries around the world have taken steps to restrict the use of industrialized fluoride, and some have even gone so far as to ban its use completely.
People who live in countries that still routinely add fluoride to their water have taken fight to the local levels. Many of these folks have also taken steps to remove this additive from their drinking water with a fluoride water filter to protect their family.
The website, Fluoridation.com, provides an insight into the health issues associated with water fluoridation and fluoride ingestion, and also provides a list of countries that have rejected or banned fluoride -- one of these countries is China, which has the highest population in the world. According to Fluoridation.com, only 5% of the world's population fluoridates its water, of which 50% of this statistic is made up of people living in the USA.
Fluoridation.com also points out that 99% of countries in western Europe have rejected or banned water fluoridation, and many of these countries have ceased adding fluoride to their drinking water. Some cities in Canada and the US have started to follow suit, albeit rather slowly.
The websites ALThealthWorks.com and Fluoridation.com both provide further information on the countries that have rejected or banned water fluoridation, which include: Austria (does not add 'toxic fluorides'), Belgium (believes people who wish to take fluoride can do so themselves), Denmark, Finland (suggests there are healthier options to prevent tooth cavities), Germany, Hungary, Israel, Japan (suggests calcium fluoride rather than sodium fluoride is beneficial, but still requires this to be regulated), Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, as well as certain countries in Africa.
According to information obtained from the Fluoride Action Network and ALThealthWorks.com, only a handful of European countries still fluoridate their drinking water -- these include: Ireland (73%), the United Kingdom (11%), Spain (11%), Serbia (3%) and Poland (1%).
Fluoridation of drinking water has been associated with several health issues, including dental fluorosis, an increased risk of cancer, and a reduced IQ in children. Yet many water utilities across the USA still routinely add this contaminant to their drinking water supplies. This contaminated water is then piped to your home, where you and your family are unwittingly exposed to this potentially harmful pollutant. If your water utility routinely adds fluoride to your drinking water, we recommend that you take measures in your own hands to protect your family's health by investing in a good quality drinking water filter that is able to remove this potentially harmful contaminant. By doing so, you will be empowered to have the final say in what you and your family are exposed to via your drinking water.
As many of our readers are already well aware, the Berkey water filter systems filter out a wide range of drinking water contaminants, with the ability to be fitted with additional PF-2 fluoride filters to remove the fluoride.
Fluoride is routinely added to our drinking water as it is believed to provide certain health benefits. But is this really the case? A study conducted by a team of Russian and Australian scientists, which was recently published in the Journal of Analytical Chemistry, reveals that fluoride added to toothpaste and drinking water may in fact increase the likelihood of Urinary Stone Disease – an excruciatingly painful disease of the urinary tract.
Urinary stones can form in the kidneys (kidney stones) or bladder (bladder stones) as a result of dehydration, which causes minerals that are present in the food we eat to form concentrated crystals rather than be flushed from the urinary system. Urinary stones typically consist of minerals such as magnesium, calcium and fluoride ions, as well as cystine and uric acid.
To gain a better understanding of which minerals are responsible for the formation of urinary stones to enable us to take preventative measures, the research team analyzed a sample of 20 urinary stones from Russian patients using ion chromatography technology. Their analysis revealed that 80% of the urinary stones contained fluoride ions, mostly at low concentrations; but two stones consisted of high concentrations (> 0.5 mg) of fluoride. They attributed this to high concentrations of fluoride present in the patient's urine, which could stem from fluoridated drinking water or from ingesting toothpaste with fluoride added.
According to the researchers, fluoride ions are known to possess an exceptional affinity to calcium ions, which leads them to believe that hyperfluorosis – chronic disease developing due to excessive amounts of fluorine and its compounds being absorbed into the body over a long period – to be a possible cause of Urinary Stone Disease.
Fluoride is added to municipal drinking water in the belief that it helps combat tooth decay. However, according to the Fluoride Action Network, drinking water fluoridation actually involves adding a concoction of chemicals – sodium fluoride, sodium fluorosilicate, and hydrofluorosilicic acid – that are in fact unpurified waste products from industry and mining, which in some cases are contaminated with other toxic pollutants, such as arsenic. Hydrofluorosilicic acid is highly corrosive and is also associated with leaching lead from lead pipes, resulting in higher exposure to lead – another toxic drinking water contaminant.
Fluoridation of municipal drinking water is a controversial issue, with some believing that it promotes tooth health, while others hold a completely different view. Drinking water fluorination is known to cause dental fluorosis – discoloration of the teeth – in children exposed to high levels of fluoride, and has also been associated with other health issues, including bone cancer. A study conducted by the World Health Organization showed that European countries who do not fluoridate their drinking water do not have elevated levels of tooth decay, and in some cases fare better than countries that do.
Some people consider fluoridation of drinking water to be a form of forced mass medication. If you would prefer to not have these chemicals forced upon you, you can take steps to remove them from your drinking water by filtering your water with a good quality water filter. The Berkey range of filter systems will remove lead and other contaminants, and can be fitted with additional fluoride and arsenic filters in the lower chamber to remove these contaminants from your drinking water.
A new study that was recently published online in Pharmacognosy Magazine highlights the brain-damaging capabilities of fluoride, and reveals that the curcumin found in Turmeric may combat the harmful effects that fluoride has on the brain.
The authors concluded;
“Our study thus demonstrate that daily single dose of 120 ppm F (Fluoride) result in highly significant increases in the LPO [lipid peroxidation, i.e. brain rancidity] as well as neurodegenerative changes in neuron cell bodies of selected hippocampal regions. Supplementation with curcumin significantly reduce the toxic effect of F to near normal level by augmenting the antioxidant defense through its scavenging property and provide an evidence of having therapeutic role against oxidative stress mediated neurodegeneration.”
Fluoride is added to many common products that we consume every day, including toothpaste and drinking water and is virtually impossible to avoid being exposed to. There is an ongoing controversy surrounding Fluoride and it stems from the harmful effects that overexposure to fluoride can cause, which include fluorosis, neurotoxicity and even cancer. The fact that it is routinely added to drinking water, which some believe amounts to being force-medicated without consent, is currently one of the the most hotly debated topics.
According to the authors, who have been studying the neurodegenerative effects that fluoride has on the mammalian brain for many years:
“Fluoride (F) is probably the first inorganic ion which drew attention of the scientific world for its toxic effects and now the F toxicity through drinking water is well-recognized as a global problem. Health effect reports on F exposure also include various cancers, adverse reproductive activities, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases.”
This particular study, which examined fluoride induced neurotoxicity, identified oxidative stress and over-stimulation of the neuron (referred to as excitoxicity) as two of the main causes of neurodegeneration in the brain. Previous observations of people suffering from fluorosis – a condition where the tooth enamel becomes discolored or mottled due to over-exposure to fluoride during the early developmental stages – also exhibit neurodegenerative changes that are associated with oxidative stress in the brain.
Previous studies conducted on the health benefits of curcumin have shown that it is a powerful antioxidant, that is able to protect the body against damage from singlet oxygen, hydroxyl radicals and superoxide radicals, and also boosts antioxidant defense mechanisms within the brain. The research team tested the neuro-protective properties of curcumin – a polyphenol agent present in turmeric – on mice, to see if it could potentially combat neurodegeneration and neurotoxicity associated with fluoride exposure.
The research team used a group of mice to both assess the neurotoxicity of fluoride and the protective benefits of curcumin in reducing these neurotoxicity effects. They divided the mice into four groups, which were kept separate for thirty days, as follows:
Group 1: no exposure to fluoride (control group).
Group 2: exposed to 120ppm fluoride in distilled drinking water that was freely available.
Group 3: exposed to 120ppm fluoride per 30mg/kg body weight in drinking water together with curcumin mixed with olive oil – dosage was administered orally.
Group 4: dosed with curcumin 30mg/kg body weight
After thirty days, the researchers measured oxidative stress levels in the brains of the mice. They found that mice in Group 2 that were exposed to fluoride only exhibited significantly higher levels of oxidative stress compared to mice in the Group 1 (control) who were not exposed to fluoride. The mice in Group 3 that were exposed to fluoride and curcumin exhibited lower levels of oxidative stress compared to the mice in Group two (fluoride only), which demonstrated the neuroprotective properties of curcumin against neurotoxity associated with fluoride exposure.
This is not the first study to highlight the health benefits of turmeric, a spice commonly used in Indian dishes. The paper cites over two hundred references to published scientific studies on the neuro-protective benefits of curcumin – an ingredient in turmeric – and there are thousands of articles on the GreenMedInfo database related to around 600 health benefits of curcumin and turmeric. Perhaps it's time to spice up your life.
Chhavi Sharma, Pooja Suhalka, Piyu Sukhwal, Neha Jaiswal and Maheep Bhatnagar. Curcumin attenuates neurotoxicity induced by fluoride: An in vivo evidence.Pharmacogn Mag. 2014 Jan-Mar; 10(37): 61–65. doi: 10.4103/0973-1296.126663
Fluoridation – the practice of adding fluoride to drinking water – is highly controversial. According to the Fluoride Action Network, the United States currently adds fluoride to over 70% of the drinking water it supplies its citizens, which results in more people in America drinking fluoridated water than the rest of the world combined. The majority of first world countries do not add fluoride to their drinking water, and yet the dental health of these populations is in no way compromised.
New Fluoridation Data Released by WHO
Data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on tooth decay rates of 12 year old children in developed countries provide strong evidence that fluoridation is not necessary. These statistics clearly illustrate that many countries that do not fluoridate their water at all have less incidence of tooth decay than countries that add fluoride to more than 60% of their water supply. As there is no noticeable difference in the rate of tooth decay between developed countries that add fluoride to drinking water and those that don't, this begs the question: Is fluoridation necessary?
World Health Organization Data: DMFT (Decayed, Missing & Filled Teeth) Status for 12 Year Olds By Country
World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Education, Training, and Research in Oral Health, Malmö University, Sweden. http://www.mah.se/CAPP/ (accessed on June 10, 2012)
Salt fluoridation data from:
Gotzfried F. (2006). Legal aspects of fluoride in salt, particularly within the EU. Schweiz Monatsschr Zahnmed 116:371-75.
Is Fluoridate Necessary?
Fluoride is added to toothpaste to prevent dental cavities. Consequently, children in developed countries already receive fluoride in toothpaste – in fact many children actually far exceed the recommended daily intake of fluoride from this source alone. Fluoride in drinking water only adds to the amount of fluoride they are consuming – mostly without their knowledge or their parent's consent. According to the Fluoride Action Network, there is enough fluoride in half a tube of children's toothpaste to kill a young child. In 2009, US poison control centers received more than 24,500 calls related to swallowing fluoride toothpaste.The benefits that fluoride offers in preventing tooth decay is provided by topical contact with teeth and not from any nutritional benefits that it provides. Therefore it's logical to assume that one not need to swallow toothpaste or drink water containing fluoride to receive these benefits.
Health Effects of Fluoride
When fluoride is consumed in excess it has toxic effects on the body; it can cause dental fluorosis (tooth discoloration), skeletal fluorosis (bone disease) and has been linked to bone cancer in teenage boys. Patients with impaired kidney function are particularly at risk of skeletal fluorosis – fluoridated water was responsible for causing bone disease in patients undergoing dialysis treatment until kidney dialysis units routinely implemented water filtration systems to filter fluoride from the drinking water provided to their patients.
Is Fluoridation Simply Unmonitored Mass Medication?
Because fluoride is added to drinking water as a preventative health measure rather than to treat the water, it is considered a drug. This is of particular concern, as once fluoride is added to drinking water, it is not monitored. There is no control over who receives this medication, or the dose they receive, and no way to monitor the effects on human health. Young children, elderly citizens, and those with compromised health receive the same dose as healthy adults, and if they drink excessive amounts of water, this may be higher still.
For those interested, Big Berkey Water Filters has add-on fluoride filters that go in the lower chamber of the system and will reduce fluoride in the water up to 99.75%. The problems associated with fluoridation of drinking water are covered in detail in the documentary film ''An Inconvenient Tooth'' released in September, 2012.
Columbia, MO has recently joined the extensive list of US cities that are questioning the practice of water fluoridation. Many citizens are opposed to the fact that the government is in effect medicating the public without their consent through the public water supply, often with little control of the dosage administered.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound that is commonly added to drinking water to promote dental health and prevent tooth decay. Hailed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the top ten best public health achievements of the 20th century, the addition of fluoride to drinking water remains a somewhat controversial issue.
Positive and Negative Heath Effects of Fluoride
While small doses of fluoride offer dental health benefits, continued exposure to high doses of fluoride can have the opposite effect. Children under the age of eight can develop dental fluorosis – evident as white spots on teeth, or in severe cases, pitting of the tooth enamel; while adults that have been exposed to high levels of fluoride over a long period can suffer skeletal fluorosis – pain in the bones, calcification of joints, and in more severe cases, crippling, and a greater susceptibility to bone fractures as they get older.
Recommended Levels of Fluoride
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has set the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for fluoride in drinking water at 4 mg/L, and a secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) of 2.0 mg/L as the standard for fluoride in drinking water. Levels above 4mg/L can have long-term adverse health effects, while levels above 2mg/L can have cosmetic effects, such as discoloration of teeth. The current guidelines as determined by the US Public Health Service for the optimal amount of fluoride in drinking water is set between 0.7-1.2mg/L. However, in an effort to balance the positive effects of fluoride for limiting tooth cavities, while also reducing the negative health effects of excessive exposure to fluoride, the US Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently proposed that this be reduced to the lower end of this range – recommending that 0.7mg/L be set as the optimum.
Health officials are concerned that Americans are being exposed to fluoride from multiple sources, including toothpaste, mouth wash, tooth whiteners, as well as drinking water. As water is not the only source of fluoride, the levels should be reduced accordingly.
Removing Fluoride from Drinking Water
If you are concerned about the levels of fluoride your family is being exposed to there are a number of options you can take to remove fluoride from your water. While boiling water can remove some pathogens, it will not remove fluoride, but will only increase the concentration of fluoride in water. You can remove fluoride with a home water filter that is capable of removing fluoride. While most standard drinking water filters are not able to remove fluoride, there are more specialized filters available that can.
One of the more economical option is to invest in a good quality drinking water filter, such as a Berkey filter, that can be fitted with additional internal filter cartridges to remove unwanted fluoride. Berkey water filters accommodate at least two Black Berkey filter cartridges in the upper chamber that remove general water contaminants, including 99.99% removal of pathogens. To remove fluoride, arsenic, and residues of heavy metal ions, two or more additional PF-2 filters can be inserted into the lower chamber of the water filter to ensure that you have a supply of purified, healthy drinking water to provide your family.
For more than half a century, local governments in the United States have been adding fluoride to water supplies to prevent tooth decay. The U.S. Public Health Service reports: "over half of the U.S. population is served by drinking water that is fluoridated naturally or adjusted. Additionally, since the 1950's, fluorides have been incorporated into toothpaste, other dental products, and dietary supplements."
From day 1, there have been dissenters. In 2006, a National Academy of Sciences report on fluoridated tap water and health brought what are often dismissed as fringe concerns directly into the mainstream. An expert government advisory panel recommended reducing the level of tap-water fluoridation to protect Americans from the harmful effects of too much fluoride.
Fluoride in Tap Water and Dental Health
In the 1940's, exposure to fluoride through food and drink was fairly low and access to fluoride-containing dental products was not common. Scientists and public health officials concerned with dental health noticed that regions with naturally highly fluoridated water also had fewer cases of dental caries. Subsequent fluoridation of drinking water supplies is often credited with 30-50% reductions in dental cavities.
Over that period, there has also been a marked increase in dental fluorosis, discoloring and pitting of tooth enamel caused by excessive fluoride exposure while teeth are still developing. This has occurred both in areas of the country with fluoridated water and without, indicating that our overall fluoride exposure has gone up.
urban U.S. children, with more exposure to fluoridated water and dental care, have just as many cavities as less fluoridation-exposed rural children.
The researchers write: "For children's dental health measures, it was found that fluoridation rates were not significantly related to the measures of either caries or overall condition of the teeth for urban or rural areas."
Overall reductions in tooth decay have been most dramatic among wealthy Americans and least among poor Americans, the ones that fluoridation is supposed to benefit.
Too Much Fluoride and Health
Excessive exposure to fluoride has implications beyond cosmetic appearance of teeth. Skeletal fluorisis is a bone and joint condition that increases bone density and leads to joint pain and reduced mobility. Full skeletal fluorosis is extremely rare in the United States, but mild forms of fluorosis may be confused with arthritis and chronic fluoride exposure has been linked to a wide variety of other ailments and conditions, including bone cancer.
Since tap water is used to process food, processed food usually contains as much or more fluoride than the water used in processing. If evaporation was used in processing, the resulting food stuffs may contain a great deal of fluoride. Instant tea, for example, when reconstituted with fluoridated tap water, contain much more fluoride than non-instant tea prepared with the same water.
Finally, fluoride-containing toothpastes and mouthwashes are much more common and easily available than when tap-water fluoridation first began. Topical application is the most effective way to strengthen teeth with fluoride, but swallowing toothpaste exposes the brusher to much more fluoride than is healthy.
EWG's analysis shows that in 25 of the 28 largest cities in the U.S., fluoride levels in tap water alone will put 8 to 36 percent of all babies up to 6 months of age over the safe dose of fluoride on any given day. "These elevated early life exposures put children at risk for precisely the health problems that the NAS committee is concerned about," said Dr. Tim Kropp, toxicologist and senior scientist at EWG.
While exposures of infants are particularly dramatic, all children drinking overly-fluoridated water may be at risk of excessive exposure because of their small size.
To find out if your town complies with the new recommendations, consult the CDC fluoride database or contact your water utility.
Optional Fluoride Water Filter for Your Big Berkey
Whether your water supply contains more than the recommended levels of fluoride or you want to eliminate it for any reason, the Big Berkey filter can be a great water filter for you.
By adding a PF-2 flouride water filter to any of the Berkey Water filtration systems, you can reduce up to 99.75% of the fluoride in your drinking water. The PF-2 filter is designed to work in conjunction with the Black Berkey filters for optimal water quality along with fluoride reduction.
Watch a Video on Fluoride and the Big Berkey Water Filter
Fluoride in our tap and municipal water continues to gain attention as a health concern for much of the public who have been exposed to this long-time practice. With that attention comes more awareness, additional research on its' long-term affects, and a better understanding of just where the fluoride found in our city tap water originates.
It comes as a surprise to many that the fluoride added to our tap water is not the type of fluoride used at the dentist's office and in toothpaste (sodium fluoride), but is rather a form of industrial waste called hydrofluorosilicic acid, a byproduct of the phosphate industry and the primary form used for water fluoridation here in the US. In 2000, Dr. J William Hirzy, Senior Vice President of EPA's Headquarters Union in Washington DC, made the statement "If this stuff (fluoride) gets into our air, it's a pollutant; if it gets into a river, it's a pollutant; if it gets into a lake, it's a pollutant; but if it goes right into your drinking water system, that's not a pollutant. That's amazing. There's gotta be a better way to manage this stuff."
This video was put together by the fluoride action network at fluoridealert.org; champions of the movement to spread the word on the dangers of fluoride in our water. Our regular readers are familiar with our writings on fluoride, but this video highlights a troublesome dimension to fluoridation covering the history behind where hydrofluorosilicic acid originates and it's impact. Towards the end you will notice some water filters referenced that are adept at removing fluoride from water, fluoride water filters in particular, the berkey water filter. There's a good amount of information packed in here in a short time, so if you're like me, you may find yourself hitting the rewind button a couple times.
By now, many of you are aware of the bodily risks that fluoride in your water presents. Fluoride toxicity harms bones, causes stiff joints, encourages skeletal abnormalities, raises the risk of cancer, results in genetic damage, can damage the thyroid, and hampers nervous system function. Given that you body does not excrete and rid itself of fluoride easily, continual exposure results in continual accumulation. Many states in the US have stopped the practice of fluoridation all together, and the question "to fluoridate or not to fluoridate" is becoming commonplace on state voting ballots.
Fluoride Contamination in Punjab
If you are not convinced of the detrimental affects of fluoride ingestion, the news video below on the Northern region of Punjab in India is a case study on it's toxic effects. In this region, contamination occurred through natural mediums and chemical fertilizers. While this news story does not speak to the fluoride concentration levels, a little research turned up a study by the Environmental Biology Laboratory, Post Graduate Department of Zoology, S.G.N. Khalsa (PG) College, in Sri Ganganagar, India called Fluoride contamination in drinking water in rural habitations of Northern Rajasthan, India. This study provided some valuable data and recommendations.
At the time of this study's release in 2007, fluoride was recorded in the ranges of 4.78 and 1.01 ppm (parts per million) with an average fluoride concentration of 2.82 ppm for the Rajasthan region. To put this in perspective, the Environmental Protection Agency allows up to 1 ppm of fluoride in water for fluoridation purposes. This study states "Due to the higher fluoride level in drinking water several cases of dental and skeletal fluorosis have appeared at an alarming rate". In other words, concentrations at only 3-5 times higher that what the EPA currently allows in the US has resulted in alarming rates of dental and skeletal fluorosis with the study calling for "an instant need to take ameliorative steps in this region to prevent the population from fluorosis."
Do We Need Fluoride in our Drinking Water?
To be clear, the news story speaks to boiling the water, however this only address the bacteria and parasites in the water. Boiling will not remove or reduce fluoride levels in water. In 2007 the ADA warned parents not to mix baby formula with tap water in the first 12 months of development so as to avoid fluoride intake. Are the risks of fluoride ingestion worth the claimed rewards? Many would argue that brushing multiple times per day, flossing, and visiting your local dentist regularly are more than sufficient in this day and age for teeth health.
For those of you who are drinking fluoridated tap water, a berkey water filter equipped with a PF-2 fluoride filter will remove the fluoride to 99.75%. If you are unsure if your city/municipal water is fluoridated, simply call you local town water authority and they will be able to provide you this information.
Good strong teeth in a child is a priority to conscientious parents and fluoride in water is considered by many to help achieve that. Yet, in spite of the advancements in dental care, more than one fourth of 2 to 5 year olds, and half of kids 12 to 15, have one or more cavities. Further, tooth decay has affected two thirds teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19. These statistics and other disturbing facts about the dangers of fluoride in water have parents increasingly purchasing fluoride water filters.
Many agree with studies that seem to indicate that adding fluoride to public water will decrease the problem of tooth decay, while others strongly disagree. Fluoride is the 13th most common element in the earth's crust and exists naturally in water. Some water has sufficient natural fluoride, but what if it is not naturally present? Should fluoride be added to water systems? The debate about fluoride won’t be settled here. Rather, the purpose of this article is to consider a few of these points, and to give you some options.
Supporters of Fluoride in Water
Supporters of fluoridation state, “Today, water fluoridation is estimated to reduce tooth decay by 20-40%....It is well known that fluoride helps prevent and even reverse the early stages of tooth decay.” These statements have the authority of a trained doctor. Similarly, “For over 60 years, water fluoridation has proven to be a safe and cost-effective way to reduce dental cavities.”
Those favoring use of fluoride in general claim that its presence combats tooth decay in two ways. First, it strengthens the developing teeth and second, it aids the surface of the teeth by preventing the acid produced by the bacteria in plaque from dissolving, or demineralizing tooth enamel. Fluoride also allows teeth damaged by acid to remineralize, or repair themselves. It won’t repair cavities, but it can reverse minor tooth decay and prevent new cavities from forming.
Opponents of Fluoride in Water
The evidence for fluoride as part of dental care is well supported, however the data supporting the benefits of adding fluoride in water is not as strong. Opponents state; “There is no difference in the tooth decay rates of the fluoridated and nonfluoridated water regions surveyed.” They claim that increased amount of fluoride in children can actually increase tooth decay. Too much fluoride during the teeth developing years can cause enamel fluorosis, a mottling or discoloration of the permanent teeth. To add fluoride to water, along with toothpaste and treatments can exceed the maximum level that is safe. Read the back of your toothpaste and you'll learn that fluoride poisoning is accompanied by vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, increased salivation, or increased thirst with symptoms lasting up to 24 hours but appear within 30 minutes after ingestion. Are we slowly poisoning our bodies with continuous low levels of fluoride in our water? Wouldn't younger children be more susceptible?
Those opposed to the added fluoride say the studies have not considered it's long range effects. They claim it is directly linked to changes in bone structure and strength, cancer, impairs the immune system, causes birth defects and perinatal deaths, causes initial stages of skeletal fluorosis, inhibits key enzymes, causes osteoarthritis, and suppresses thyroid function. What do they say about the studies that prove that fluoride in water is good for dental hygiene? The studies had several flaws. First, they did not consider the differences between "natural fluoride" (ex: CaF) and added fluoride in water (ex: NaF). Second, these studies did not consider the other minerals in the water and these could actually be the cause of decreased instances of tooth decay. Third, adequate risk analysis was lacking with dental fluorosis as the only barometer for safety being included.
Fluoride Water Filters
If your conclusion from these points is that fluoride should not be in your drinking water, what are your options? Some opt for bottled water, but this can get expensive. A better alternative is to purchase a fluoride water filter. Some expensive units do this, yet there are also more affordable systems that provide optional fluoride water filters. Berkey water filter systems, for example, have available an additional fluoride filter that can be attached below the primary black berkeys and will remove fluoride from the water. If you don’t want fluoride, you don’t have to drink it.