10 Facts About Fluoride You Need to Know
April 30, 2013
By Dr. Mercola
If fluoride is really the panacea for dental disease that it’s been portrayed as, then why is it that the United States is one of the only developed countries that fluoridates their citizens’ drinking water?
Hint: It’s not because the other countries aren’t aware of fluoride’s supposed “miracle” powers for your teeth … it’s because they fully realize that adding a known poison to your population’s water supply is probably not a good idea.
Even in North America, water fluoridation has come under increasing scrutiny; since 2010, more than 75 US and Canadian communities have voted to end water fluoridation, and the issue is heating up as more and more people begin to demand water that does not expose them to this highly toxic industrial waste product.
If you’re new to this issue, and even if you’re not, please take 20 minutes to watch Michael Connett, an attorney with the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), summarize 10 important facts about fluoride that everyone needs to know.1
10 Facts About Fluoride
1. Most Developed Countries Do Not Fluoridate Their Water
More people drink fluoridated water in the US alone than in the rest of the world combined. In Western Europe, for instance, 97 percent of the population drinks non-fluoridated water.
2. Fluoridated Countries Do Not Have Less Tooth Decay Than Non-Fluoridated Countries
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no discernible difference in tooth decay between developed countries that fluoridate their water and those that do not. The decline in tooth decay the US has experienced over the last 60 years, which is often attributed to fluoridated water, has likewise occurred in all developed countries (most of which do not fluoridate their water).
3. Fluoride Affects Many Tissues in Your Body Besides Your Teeth
Many assume that consuming fluoride is only an issue that involves your dental health. But 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.2
There have been over 34 human studies and 100 animal studies linking fluoride to brain damage,3 including lower IQ in children, and studies have shown that fluoride toxicity can lead to a wide variety of health problems, including:
| Increased lead absorption
|| Disrupts synthesis of collagen
|| Hyperactivity and/or lethargy
|| Muscle disorders
| Thyroid disease
|| Bone fractures
| Lowered thyroid function
|| Bone cancer (osteosarcoma)
|| Inactivates 62 enzymes and inhibits more than 100
|| Inhibited formation of antibodies
| Genetic damage and cell death
|| Increased tumor and cancer rate
|| Disrupted immune system
|| Damaged sperm and increased infertility
4. Fluoridation is Not a “Natural” Process
Fluoride is naturally occurring in some areas, leading to high levels in certain water supplies “naturally.” Fluoridation advocates often use this to support its safety, however naturally occurring substances are not automatically safe (think of arsenic, for instance).
Further, the fluoride added to most water supplies is not the naturally occurring variety but rather fluorosilicic acid, which is captured in air pollution control devices of the phosphate fertilizer industry. As FAN reported:
“This captured fluoride acid is the most contaminated chemical added to public water supplies, and may impose additional risks to those presented by natural fluorides. These risks include a possible cancer hazard from the acid’s elevated arsenic content, and a possible neurotoxic hazard from the acid’s ability--under some conditions--to increase the erosion of lead from old pipes.”
5. 40% of American Teenagers Show Visible Signs of Fluoride Overexposure
About 40 percent of American teens have dental fluorosis,4 a condition that refers to changes in the appearance of tooth enamel that are caused by long-term ingestion of fluoride during the time teeth are forming. In some areas, fluorosis rates are as high as 70-80 percent, with some children suffering from advanced forms.
It’s likely this is a sign that children are receiving large amounts of fluoride from multiple sources, including not only drinking water but also fluoride toothpaste, processed beverages/foods, fluoride pesticides, tea, non-stick pans and some fluorinated drugs. So not only do we need to address the issue of water fluoridation, but how this exposure is magnified by other sources of fluoride that are now common.
It's also important to realize that dental fluorosis is NOT "just cosmetic." It can also be an indication that the rest of your body, such as your bones and internal organs, including your brain, have been overexposed to fluoride as well. In other words, if fluoride is having a visually detrimental effect on the surface of your teeth, you can be virtually guaranteed that it's also damaging other parts of your body, such as your bones.
6. For Infants, Fluoridated Water Provides No Benefits, Only Risks
Infants who consume formula made with fluoridated tap water may consume up to 1,200 micrograms of fluoride, or about 100 times more than the recommended amounts. Such “spikes” of fluoride exposure during infancy provide no known advantage to teeth, but they do have plenty of known harmful effects.
Babies given fluoridated water in their formula are not only more likely to develop dental fluorosis, but may also have reduced IQ scores. In fact, 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.5 A number of prominent dental researchers now advise that parents should not add fluoridated water to baby formula.
7. Fluoride Supplements Have Never Been Approved by the FDA
The fluoride supplements sometimes prescribed to those who are not drinking fluoridated water have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of tooth decay. In fact, the fluoride supplements that the FDA has reviewed have been rejected.
“So with fluoridation, we are adding to the water a prescription-strength dose of a drug that has never been approved by the FDA,” FAN noted.
8. Fluoride is the Only Medicine Added to Public Water
Fluoride is added to drinking water to prevent a disease (tooth decay), and as such becomes a medicine by FDA definition. While proponents claim this is no different than adding vitamin D to milk, fluoride is not an essential nutrient. Many European nations have rejected fluoride for the very reason that delivering medication via the water supply would be inappropriate. Water fluoridation is a form of mass medication that denies you the right to informed consent.
9. Swallowing Fluoride Provides Little Benefit to Teeth
It is now widely recognized that fluoride’s only justifiable benefit comes from topical contact with teeth, which even the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged. Adding it to water and pills, which are swallowed, offers little, if any, benefit to your teeth.
10. Disadvantaged Communities are the Most Disadvantaged by Fluoride
Fluoride toxicity is exacerbated by conditions that occur much more frequently in low-income areas. This includes:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Infant formula consumption
- Kidney disease
African American and Mexican American children have significantly higher rates of dental fluorosis, and many low-income urban communities also have severe oral health crises, despite decades of water fluoridation. FAN continues:
“The simple fact is that poor populations need dental care, not fluoridation chemicals in their water. The millions of dollars spent each year promoting fluoridation would be better spent advocating for policies that provide real dental care: like allowing dental therapists to provide affordable care to populations with little access to dentists. In short, fluoridation provides good PR for dental trade associations, but bad medicine for those it’s supposedly meant to serve.”
Pro-Fluoride Group Rewards Minority and Immigrant Groups With Cash Payments for Support
Portland, Oregon, gets its water from the Bull Run watershed, a 102-square mile protected watershed that is so pristine and pure the city was even granted a waiver from having to build a water treatment plant. In May, Portland residents will vote for or against adding risky fluoridation chemicals to their unusually pristine water supply.
Not only will adding fluoride add to environmental chemical pollution and increase residents’ risks of dental fluorosis and other health concerns, it will also raise monthly water bills since adding these industrial waste chemicals costs millions of dollars.
As the vote on May 21, 2013 nears, the pro-fluoride campaign, Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland, has been increasing its “outreach” to gain the votes of minority groups. Not only did the organization recently gain another $325,000 in new contributions, giving them a large monetary lead over the fluoride opponents, Clean Water Portland, but they also reported some eyebrow-raising expenditures to groups working with minorities and immigrants. Among them:
- $20,000 to the Center For Intercultural Organizing
- $20,000 to the Native American Youth and Family Center
- $20,000 to the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon
- $20,000 to the Latino Network
- $20,000 to the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization
- $19,100 to the Urban League
That’s nearly $100,000 “donated” to essentially buy votes from the low-income communities that are among those at risk of being most harmed by water fluoridation. As WW reported:6
“ … Healthy Kids has aggressively sought the support of such organizations. That's not unusual. What is somewhat uncommon is rewarding that support with cash payments, which the campaign characterized in its filings as 'grant[s] for outreach services.' Campaigns typically spend their money on advertising, consultants, polling, rent and other direct expenses, not making grants to other groups. Evyn Mitchell, the campaign manager for Healthy Kids, says the grants to minority and immigrant groups are 'a new and different approach.'”
Call to Action as Portland Readies to Vote on Water Fluoridation
Portland rejected water fluoridation in 1956, 1962, and 1980. But after more than a year of secretive planning, fluoride lobbyists convinced the Portland city council to add this toxic waste for their public's consumption. Luckily, the citizens of Portland stood together by gathering enough signatures to force the decision to a vote on May 21, 2013.
Hopefully, with your help in spreading the message, Portland will once again stop this measure. If you live in Portland and want to sign up as a volunteer or pledge to vote No on water fluoridation on the City of Portland ballot, please do so on the Clean Water Portland Pledge Page.
Remember, these lobbyists are well funded, and we're going to see a campaign similar to Prop 37 in California. The citizens need your help to keep Portland free of this contaminant. So, regardless of where you live, please help by donating to their campaign to ensure Portland's pure water source remains that way.
Join the Fight to Get Fluoride Out of Drinking Water
There's no doubt about it: fluoride should not be ingested. Even scientists from the EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory have classified fluoride as a "chemical having substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity.” Furthermore, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41 percent of American adolescents now have dental fluorosis—unattractive discoloration and mottling of the teeth that indicate overexposure to fluoride. Clearly, children are being overexposed, and their health and development put in jeopardy. Why?
At least when it comes to topical application, you have a choice. You can easily buy fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash. But you're stuck with whatever your community puts in the water, and it's very difficult to filter out of your water once it's added. Many do not have the resources or the knowledge to do so.
The only real solution is to stop the archaic practice of water fluoridation in the first place. Fortunately, the Fluoride Action Network has a game plan to END water fluoridation, both in the United States and Canada. Clean pure water is a prerequisite to optimal health. Industrial chemicals, drugs and other toxic additives really have no place in our water supplies. So, please, support the anti-fluoride movement by making a donation to the Fluoride Action Network today.