The Do’s and Don’ts of Fluoride
Have you ever taken the time to read the label on a tube of toothpaste? One sample from a fluoride toothpaste selected at random reads: Active Ingredient Sodium Fluoride – Warning – Keep out of reach of children. If accidently swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately. (Incidentally, a tube of commercial toothpaste contains enough fluoride in it to kill a child of around 20 pounds or the average 9-month-old.)
Reading such a label could make a person wonder what the deal is with fluoride, and if it is so poisonous that the FDA demands there be warning labels attached to toothpaste, then why are we ingesting the stuff every time we swig a glass of water?
The History of Water Fluoridation
For more than 50 years fluoride has been routinely added to most US municipal water systems in the form of sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, or sodium fluorosilicate in levels up to 1 part per million (ppm) to prevent tooth decay. While it is impossible to determine how much an individual body may be absorbing in a given day (as personal physiology varies absorption) over 4 ppm is considered unsafe and can at the very least damage teeth causing the undesirable effect of staining and wearing away the enamel. Long touted as “safe and effective” by US government officials, interestingly most of Western Europe has rejected the use of water fluoridation based on more recent studies and concerns for the health and physical welfare of their citizens. In fact, Western Europeans have successfully dealt with tooth decay without the use of fluoride and in some areas have exceeded our national average for lifetime healthy teeth.
Before fluoride was so readily available in toothpaste form, back in 1945 water fluoridation was introduced to the public as a way to keep American children’s teeth healthy, but it has always been controversial. In today’s busy world most people either don’t have time to think about the implications of drinking fluoridated water or they simply accept the long drummed claims of safety and effectiveness of the practice. Those at the forefront of the controversy cite moral, ethical and safety concerns. They argue that water fluoridation may cause serious health problems, simply is not effective enough to justify the expense (roughly $1 per person in the US per year), and provides a dosage that cannot be precisely controlled, particularly since we get fluoride from practically every source of fluid we drink including processed drinks and food substances, which contain fluoridated water from manufacturers local water sources. No matter where it comes from, when introduced into the mouth via toothpaste, mouthwash or the water supply it is then duly absorbed into the body – and that is where the controversy begins.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a waste product of the aluminum and fertilizer industries and, not surprisingly; a multi-million dollar business. The chemicals used to fluoridate the water actually are not pharmaceutical grade as one might expect, but are a hazardous waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry. In fact this stuff is so toxic, it is illegal for the general public to dump these sorts of chemicals into natural waterways or release the parent gases into the atmosphere.
Additionally and according to a report released by the IAOMT (International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology), “This product, along with its salt form used in 91 percent of the fluoridation schemes, contains numerous contaminants, including arsenic and lead, which have never been factored in to any risk assessment.” The Merck Manual (one of the most trusted medical references textbooks used by physicians and healthcare workers the world over) lists fluoride as a ‘lethal poison’ and recognizes it as a substance used extensively as an insecticide and rodent poison.
When You Know You’ve Had Enough
The following symptoms could indicate immediate over exposure to fluoride:
- Abdominal Pain
- Muscular Weakness, Tremors
- Excess Salivation
Although some research shows that while there may be a degree of value in topical applications such as brushing with fluoride toothpaste, evidence that ingesting fluoride reduces tooth decay is exceedingly flimsy. The National Research Council states that children naturally consume daily a higher average dose than adults per kg of body weight and those who perspire heavily (such as athletes) and individuals with kidney problems consume more water and thus also have a higher intake putting them at greater risk of overdose. Researchers have determined a growing list of health concerns related to long term over fluoridation including;
Bones: It accumulates in bones causing them to become brittle and prone to fracture, a particularly relevant concern in the elderly. There is also mounting concerns over fluoridation having some influence on the current epidemic of arthritis. There may be a connection between fluoridation and osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer) in boys between the ages of 6 and 8 who may have a significantly increased risk of developing the disease.
Brain: Evidence sited in a study by The International Center for Nutritional Research indicates that over time fluoride accumulates in the pineal gland of the brain, possibly lowering the production of melatonin (a very important regulatory hormone aimed particularly at sleep). Ever wonder why there is such an epidemic of insomnia in this country? In animal studies it has been noted to increase the uptake of aluminum into the brain, a phenomenon sometimes associated in humans with Alzheimer’s disease.
Healthy Ways to Prevent Tooth Decay
By striving to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet avoiding sugars and processed foods, you can prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay in the first place. Brushing and flossing twice daily, along with regular check-ups and cleaning with your natural dentist will ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy for a lifetime.
Also, as the evidence against ongoing water fluoridation increases people are looking for alternative ways to avoid fluoride in their drinking water typically by use of specially design water filtration systems easily installed at home or in the office. Many options are available these days and can be found online or at your local supplier.
Dr. Mercola on the use of Fluoride: http://search.mercola.com/search/pages/Results.aspx?k=fluoride
Fluoride Action Network: http://www.fluoridealert.org
What you can do to help: http://www.fluoridealert.org/action.aspx
IAOMT Policy position on ingested fluoride and fluoridation: http://www.iaomt.org/articles/files/files196/IAOMT%20Fluoridation%20Position.pdf
Water Fluoridation Controversy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_fluoridation_controversy
The Absurdities of Water Fluoridation by Paul Connett, PhD http://www.fluoridealert.org/
Centers For Disease Control & Prevention, Community Water Fluoridation http://www.cdc.gov/
Methods and products for removing fluoride from tap water: http://search.mercola.com/search/pages/ Results.aspx?k=fluoride