How often do you take medications without knowing the potential side effects? If someone on the street walked up to you and said “here take this pill”, would you? When you ingest fluoride in drinking water, toothpaste, mouthwash, and at the dentist, do you know the risks you are taking?
Recently, several counties in the United States have decided to quit adding fluoride to the public water supply because of potential harmful side effects. Recent studies have shown that high levels of fluoride can cause tooth and bone decay. It’s become such a national issue that the Obama Administration is moving towards lowering the amount of fluoride added to drinking water.
In an ABC news article from November 2012, a man named Corey Sturmer described his confusing diagnosis when he went to the dentist at 25-years old and was told he had fluorosis- an erosion of the enamel and discoloration of the teeth due to too much fluoride use. We are all told from the time we are children that fluoride is important for us, we must use it to maintain a healthy mouth. But is this actually the case? In a 2006 study by the National Academy of Science regarding fluoride use proclaimed that fluoride can affect the thyroid gland and potentially lower the intelligence of children. Ummmm, what!? My thoughts, too.
Like anything dealing with your health and body, it is important to do research to determine what is best for you and your family- but you may want to consider making the switch to fluoride-free toothpaste.There are hundreds of communities who have decided to go fluoride-free based on scientific findings, here is a list! The Fluoride Action Network has compiled a fantastic list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding Fluoride use. Click here to read the full list, but here are some interesting answers to get you started.
Do we need fluoride?
No. It is now well established that fluoride is not an essential nutrient. This means that no human disease – including tooth decay – will result from a “deficiency” of fluoride. Fluoridating water supplies is therefore different than adding iodine to salt. Unlike fluoride, iodine is an essential nutrient (the body needs iodine to ensure the proper functioning of the thyroid gland). No such necessity exists for fluoride.
Does Fluoride occur naturally in water?
As a general rule, the only fresh water with high levels of fluoride (other than waters polluted by fluoride-emitting industries) is water derived from deep wells. Rather than being something to celebrate, high levels of naturally occurring fluorides have wreaked havoc on tens of millions of people’s health around the world. People consuming water with naturally high levels of fluoride have been found to suffer serious health ailments including disfiguring tooth damage, bone disease, ulcers, reduced IQ, thyroid disease, and infertility. Because of this, international organizations like UNICEF assist developing nations in finding ways of removing fluoride from the water.
Thankfully, most fresh water supplies contain very low levels of fluoride. The average level of fluoride in unpolluted fresh water is less than 0.1 ppm, which is about 10 times less than the levels added to water in fluoridation programs (0.7 to 1.2 ppm). The frequent claim, therefore, that “nature thought of fluoridation first” does not withstand scrutiny.
Does fluoridated water reduce tooth decay?
If water fluoridation has a benefit, it is a minimal one. Recent large-scale studies from the United States have found little practical or statistical difference in tooth decay rates among children living in fluoridated versus non-fluoridated areas. In addition, data complied by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that tooth decay rates have declined just as rapidly in non-fluoridated western countries as they have in fluoridated western countries. Read more.
What are the risks from swallowing fluoride?
Fluoride has long been known to be a very toxic substance. This is why, like arsenic, fluoride has been used in pesticides and rodenticides (to kill rats, insects, etc). It is also why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that all fluoride toothpaste sold in the U.S. carry a poison warning that instructs users to contact the poison control center if they swallow more than used for brushing.
Excessive fluoride exposure is well known to cause a painful bone disease (skeletal fluorosis), as well as a discoloration of the teeth known as dental fluorosis. Excessive fluoride exposure has also been linked to a range of other chronic ailments including arthritis, bone fragility, dental fluorosis, glucose intolerance, gastrointestinal distress, thyroid disease, and possibly cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
While the lowest doses that cause some of these effects are not yet well defined, it is clear that certain subsets of the population are particularly vulnerable to fluoride’s toxicity. Populations that have heightened susceptibility to fluoride include infants, individuals with kidney disease, individuals with nutrient deficiencies (particularly calcium and iodine), and individuals with medical conditions that cause excessive thirst.
To see a complete list of FAN’s research on fluoride’s health effects, click here.
If you are ready to make a move towards a fluoride-free lifestyle, you can start by making your own toothpaste! It’s not as scary as it sounds. I’ve tried several recipes but so far, my favorite recipe comes from crunchybetty.com.
Homemade Coconut Oil Toothpaste
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil
- 3 Tbsp baking soda
- 25 drops peppermint essential oil
- 1 packet stevia
- 2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)
Put the coconut oil and baking soda in a bowl and mash up with a fork until blended. Add the peppermint essential oil, stevia and optional vegetable glycerin and continue to mash and stir until you’ve reached toothpaste consistency.
By Courtney Perry