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Fluoridated Water

Story at-a-glance -

  • New research suggests water fluoridation does not reduce cavities to a statistically significant degree in permanent teeth or baby teeth
  • About 12 percent of those living in fluoridated areas had dental fluorosis that was an “aesthetic concern”
  • There is no discernible difference in tooth decay between developed countries that fluoridate their water and those that do not

Scientific Review Shows Fluoridation May Not Prevent Cavities

July 14, 2015 | 59,404 views

By Dr. Mercola

After decades of toxic fluoride being added to public water supplies without the public’s consent, we now have significant validation that this practice needs to be stopped.

The Cochrane Collaboration has released a comprehensive review with points that are nearly impossible to dispute. Fluoride doesn’t work to prevent cavities and it’s proven to cause harm in the form of dental fluorosis.

The Cochrane Collaboration is considered to be the gold standard in evidence-based reviews, and only three studies conducted since 1975 had enough merit to be included. None showed that swallowing fluoride prevents cavities while it was clear that it causes harm (dental fluorosis).

Fluorosis – mottled discolorations on teeth – is not purely aesthetic. It’s a visible sign that you’ve been exposed to this known developmental neurotoxin at excessive levels.

Worse still, even the “best” studies were not considered to be high quality and nearly all were flawed, for instance failing to control for other contributing factors, such as dietary sources of fluoride aside from tap water, diet and ethnicity.

Who Are the Real 'Conspiracy Theorists'?

Earlier this year, even National Geographic stooped so low as to suggest anyone who questions water fluoridation is a conspiracy theorist.1 Yet, just last year Lancet Neurology released a study, authored by a Harvard doctor, among others, that classified fluoride as a developmental neurotoxin.2

The meta-analysis clearly showed that children exposed to fluoride in drinking water had lower IQ, by an average of seven points, in areas with raised concentrations.

And the majority of the studies had fluoride levels of less than four milligrams (mg) per liter, which is under the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) allowable level…

Meanwhile, we have visible evidence (dental fluorosis) that US children are being overexposed to fluoride. That fluoride doesn’t just stop at the teeth; it’s being taken internally. It’s no conspiracy theory; it’s a fact that deserves urgent attention and immediate policy review.

Who are the real denialists about fluoride? The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA), which continue to tout water fluoridation as “safe and effective” even as evidence to the contrary pours in around them.

Eventually, and it appears sooner rather than later, they are going to have to face the damage they have caused to so many children by demanding water fluoridation for all – and continuing to do so rather than admitting their mistake.

Fluoride Is Still Added to Two-Thirds of US Water Supplies

Fluoride is added to two-thirds of US public water supplies, even though it’s been linked to serious health conditions, including damage to your bones, brain, kidneys, thyroid, pineal gland and even, ironically, your teeth.

It wasn’t always this way.3 Water fluoridation began in 1945, even though in 1943 the Journal of the American Medical Association stated fluorides are general protoplasmic poisons that change the permeability of the cell membrane by certain enzymes.4

This poison was added to the water because it was supposed to help prevent tooth decay – and rates of cavities have declined over the last 60 years. But fluoridation doesn’t deserve the credit.

The decline in tooth decay in the US, which is often attributed to fluoridated water, has likewise occurred in all developed countries (most of which do not fluoridate their water). Meanwhile, health risks linked to consuming fluoridated water have grown and, for the proverbial icing on the cake, new research shows there’s hardly any solid data showing water fluoridation is good for your teeth.

The Evidence Is In: Water Fluoridation Does Not Prevent Cavities

The Cochrane Collaboration, which releases comprehensive reviews regarded as the gold standard in assessing public health policies, recently turned their attention to water fluoridation and its effects on cavities.5

In a review of every fluoridation study they could find, only three since 1975 looked at the effectiveness of water fluoridation at reducing tooth decay among the general population and had high enough quality to be included. The studies found fluoridation does not reduce cavities to a statistically significant degree in permanent teeth.6

Further, in the two studies since 1975 that examined the effectiveness of fluoridation in reducing cavities in baby teeth, no significant reduction was noted there either.Study co-author Anne-Marie Glenny, a health science researcher at Manchester University in the United Kingdom, told Newsweek:7

“From the review, we’re unable to determine whether water fluoridation has an impact on caries [cavity] levels in adults.”

While they couldn’t prove that water fluoridation is beneficial, they did find that it causes harm. About 12 percent of those living in fluoridated areas had dental fluorosis that was an “aesthetic concern.”

Dental fluorosis is a condition in which your tooth enamel becomes progressively discolored and mottled, and it’s one of the first signs of over-exposure to fluoride. Eventually, it can result in badly damaged teeth, and, worse, it can also be an indication the rest of your body, such as your bones and internal organs, including your brain, have been overexposed to fluoride as well.

'Nobody Would Even Think About' Approving Fluoridation Today

The Cochrane review is only the latest study to question why so many US municipalities are still adding fluoride to drinking water. In 2000, research lead by Trevor Sheldon, the dean of the Hull York Medical School in the United Kingdom, similarly found a lack of reliable evidence showing water fluoridation to be beneficial… along with a strong link to harm (again, dental fluorosis).8 Sheldon told Newsweek:9

“I had assumed because of everything I’d heard that water fluoridation reduces cavities but I was completely amazed by the lack of evidence… My prior view was completely reversed… There’s really hardly any evidence [the practice works]… And if anything there may be some evidence the other way.”

As Newsweek further reported:10  "Sheldon says that if fluoridation were to be submitted anew for approval today, 'nobody would even think about it' due to the shoddy evidence of effectiveness and obvious downside of fluorosis."

Also revealing, 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.11 It’s become clear that swallowing fluoride poses little, if any, benefit along with unacceptable risks. Even the topical benefits (such as in fluoride toothpaste) are being questioned.

A 2010 study published in the journal Langmuir, for instance, uncovered that the fluorapatite layer formed on your teeth from fluoride is a mere six nanometers thick12 -- you'd need 10,000 of these layers to get the width of a strand of your hair.

Scientists now question whether this ultra-thin layer can actually protect your enamel and provide any discernible benefit, considering the fact that it is quickly eliminated by simple chewing. They wrote: "…it has to be asked whether such narrow… layers really can act as protective layers for the enamel."

What Are the Health Risks of Swallowing Fluoride?

Dental fluorosis is only one health risk of consuming fluoride. Research conducted earlier this year linked fluoridated-water consumption to thyroid dysfunction, weight gain, and depression. Thyroid function was affected starting at a fluoride level of 0.3 mg/L, which is less than half what the US currently recommends, which is a level of 0.7 mg/L.

Your pineal gland also tends to accumulate significant amounts of fluoride, which eventually causes it to calcify. This may lead to ADHD-like symptoms and may also play a role in Alzheimer's and bipolar disease. Considering its effect on neurotransmitters, it's also quite conceivable that it might promote depression and other neurological disorders.13

Further, according to one 500-page scientific review, fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can also affect your bones, brain, and even your blood sugar levels.14  There are more than 100 published studies illustrating fluoride's harm to the brain alone, plus 43 more that directly link fluoride exposure to reduced IQ in children Studies have also demonstrated that fluoride toxicity, caused by overexposure, can lead to:

Increased lead absorption

Disrupted synthesis of collagen

Hyperactivity and/or lethargy

Muscle disorders

Bone cancer (osteosarcoma)

Increased tumor and cancer rate


Skeletal fluorosis and bone fractures

Genetic damage and cell death

Damaged sperm and increased infertility

Inactivation of 62 enzymes and inhibition of more than 100

Inhibited formation of antibodies, and immune system disruptions

Fluoride Is a Cumulative Toxin

Fluoride is a cumulative toxin, which means the more exposure you get, and the longer you get it, the worse your symptoms are likely to be. This is true even in areas where fluoride levels occur in water naturally. Fluoridation advocates often use this to support its safety. However, naturally occurring substances are not automatically safe (think of arsenic, for instance).

Data from India’s Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry indicate that nearly 49 million people are living in areas where fluoride levels in water are above the permissible levels. The World Health Organization recommends fluoride levels in drinking water stay between 0.8 and 1.2 milligrams (mg) per liter, and do not exceed 1.5 mg per liter.

Exposure to levels above this amount may cause pitting of tooth enamel and fluoride deposits in your bones, while exposure to levels above 10 mg per liter may cause crippling skeletal fluorosis, as well as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, seizures and muscle spasms. It’s not only naturally occurring fluoride that can lead to high levels in your water, however.

In one Australian town in 2013, a suspected electrical fault allowed fluoride levels to reach nearly double the guideline amount in local drinking water. The levels may have remained elevated around 2.8 mg per liter for several days. If fluoride exposure is high enough, it can cause irreparable damage to your body. Skeletal fluorosis goes through three stages, which makes sense given fluoride’s cumulative toxicity. According to the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), symptoms of early stage skeletal fluorosis include:

  • Burning, prickling, and tingling in your limbs
  • Muscle weakness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss

The second clinical stage of skeletal fluorosis is characterized by:

  • Stiff joints and/or constant pain in your bones; brittle bones; and osteosclerosis
  • Anemia
  • Calcification of tendons, or ligaments of ribs and pelvis
  • Osteoporosis in the long bones
  • Bony spurs may also appear on your limb bones, especially around your knee, elbow, and on the surface of tibia and ulna

In advanced skeletal fluorosis (called crippling skeletal fluorosis), your extremities become weak and moving your joints difficult, and your vertebrae partially fuse together, effectively crippling you. Does this still sound like a substance you want intentionally added to your drinking water?

What Really Causes Tooth Decay?

Swallowing fluoride to clean your teeth is like drinking shampoo to wash your hair; it really defies common logic. Dental caries are caused by demineralization of your teeth (enamel and dentin) by the acids formed during the bacterial fermentation of dietary sugars. Demineralization is countered by the deposit of minerals from your saliva, or remineralization, which is a slow process. However, dental caries are not caused by a lack of fluoride, just as depression is not caused by a lack of Prozac. Some of the true primary causes of tooth decay cited in the literature include:

  • Consistent use of refined sugar, sugary soft drinks, and processed foods in general
  • Children going to bed with a bottle of sweetened drink in their mouth, or sucking at will from such a bottle during the day
  • Poor dental hygiene and poor access to and utilization of dental health services, usually related to socioeconomic status
  • Mineral deficiencies, like magnesium, which can weaken bones and teeth15
  • More than 600 medications promote tooth decay by inhibiting saliva

If you’re really interested in protecting your oral health, the key is your diet and proper dental care: good old brushing and flossing. By avoiding sugars and processed foods, and eating fermented vegetables, you help prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay while promoting protective varieties. Contrary to popular belief, antimicrobial agents and alcohol mouthwashes designed to "kill bad bacteria" actually do far more harm than good.

The oral microbiome, while connected to the gut microbiome, is quite unique. Most importantly, it has a protective component that protects you from deadly viruses and bacteria in the environment. In addition to consuming foods that are part of a traditional whole-foods-based diet and avoiding processed foods and refined sugar, make sure you are getting plenty of omega-3 fats. The latest research suggests even moderate amounts of omega-3 fats may help ward off gum disease.

Do You Want to Decrease Your Fluoride Exposure?

FAN is one of the leading organizations that is working feverishly to eliminate fluoride from the water supply. Dr. Paul Connett is one of our Health Liberty partners and we deeply appreciate and applaud his organization's hard efforts. We have reprinted their excellent recommendations on how to decrease your fluoride exposure below.

1. Stop Drinking Fluoridated Water:

Tap water consumption is, on average, the largest daily source of fluoride exposure for people who live in areas that add fluoride to the water. Avoiding consumption of fluoridated water is especially critical for infants. If you live in area that fluoridates its water, you can avoid drinking the fluoride in one of three ways:

  • Water Filters: One way of avoiding the fluoride from tap water is to purchase a water filter. Not all water filters, however, remove fluoride. The three types of filters that can remove fluoride are reverse osmosis, deionizers (which use ion-exchange resins), and activated alumina. Each of these filters should be able to remove about 90% of the fluoride. By contrast, "activated carbon" countertop filters (e.g., Brita & Pur) do not remove fluoride.
  • Spring Water: Another way to avoid fluoride from tap water is to purchase spring water. Most brands of spring water contain very low levels of fluoride. Some brands, however, do contain high levels (e.g., Trinity Springs). Before consuming any bottled water on a consistent basis, therefore, you should verify that the fluoride content is less than 0.2 ppm, and ideally less than 0.1 ppm. You can find out the level of fluoride in some of the popular brands here. You can also find out the fluoride level by calling the number on the water label. (Most companies have this information readily available.)
  • Water Distillation: A third way to avoid fluoride from the tap is to purchase a distillation unit. Water distillation will remove most, if not all, of the fluoride. The price for a distillation unit varies widely depending on the size. Small counter-top units cost as little as $200, while large units can exceed $1,000.  However, distillation also removes all minerals and destructures the water which radically diminished the health benefits of the water.

If you don't know if your area is fluoridated, you can find out by contacting your local water department. If you live in the US, you can also find out by going to FAN's State Fluoride Database.

2. Don't Let Your Child Swallow Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste is often the largest single source of fluoride intake for young children, and is a major risk factor for disfiguring dental fluorosis. This is because children swallow a large amount of the paste that they put in their mouth. In fact, research has shown that it is not uncommon for young children to swallow more fluoride from toothpaste alone than is recommended as an entire day's ingestion from all sources.

If you have a young child, therefore, we recommend that you use a non-fluoride toothpaste. If, however, you do use fluoride toothpaste, it's very important that you supervise your children while they brush to make sure they use no more than a "pea-sized amount" of paste, and that they fully rinse and spit and after they finish. And, lastly, do not purchase candy-flavored toothpaste (e.g., bubble-gum and watermelon) as these toothpastes (which still contain adult-strength concentrations of fluoride) increase the risk that your children will swallow it (and actually want to swallow it).

3. Do NOT Get Fluoride Gel Treatments at the Dentist

Although dental researchers have stated on numerous occasions that fluoride gel treatment should ONLY be used for patients at highest risk of cavities, many dentists continue to apply fluoride gels irrespective of the patient's cavity risk. The fluoride gel procedure requires the patient to clamp down on a tray for 4 minutes and uses an extremely concentrated, acidic fluoride gel (12,300 ppm). Because of the fluoride gel's high acidity, the saliva glands produce a large amount of saliva during the treatment, which makes it extremely difficult (both for children and adults) to avoid swallowing the gel.

Even when dentists use precautionary measures such as suction devices, children and adults still ingest significant quantities of the paste, which can cause incredibly high spikes of fluoride in the blood (for up to 15 hours). These fluoride levels place patients, particularly children, at risk for stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, and places a person at risk for short-term kidney damage, harm to the reproductive system, and impairment to glucose metabolism. The next time your dentist asks you whether you want a fluoride gel treatment, say NO.

4. Eat More Fresh, Less Processed Food

When water is fluoridated, it is not just the water that is fluoridated, but all beverages and foods that are made with the water. As a general rule, therefore, the more processed a food is, the more fluoride it has. The good news is that the naturally occurring levels of fluoride in most fresh water (e.g., spring water) and most fresh food (e.g., fruits, vegetables, grain, eggs, milk) is very low.

Use this fact to your advantage by trying to shift as much as you can from processed foods to fresh. Also, since processed beverages (e.g., sodas, reconstituted juices, sports drinks) contribute far more to fluoride intake than processed foods, it is most important to focus on reducing your consumption of processed beverages. For more detailed information on how you can cut down on your fluoride intake from processed foods, see FAN's Grocery Store Guide: 7 Ways to Avoid Fluoride in Beverages and Food.

5. Buy Organic Grape Juice and Wine

In the US, many vineyards use a fluoride pesticide called cryolite. As a result, the levels of fluoride in US grape juice and wine (particularly white grape juice and white wine) are consistently elevated. Indeed, in 2005, the USDA reported that the average level of fluoride exceeded 2 ppm for both white wine and white grape.

The levels of fluoride in red wine are also elevated (1 ppm), and so are raisins (2.3 ppm). If you buy grape juice and wine, or if you are a heavy consumer of raisins, buy organic. In the case of wine, if you don't want to spend the extra money on organic, consider purchasing a European brand, as Europe uses far less cryolite than the US.

6. Reduce Your Tea Consumption (and/or Drink Tea with Younger Leaves)

Be careful of drinking too much tea, particularly bottled and instant varieties. The tea plant accumulates high levels of fluoride, and excess intake of tea is known to cause a painful bone disease called skeletal fluorosis. Some teas though contain high levels of health-boosting antioxidants. Not only are antioxidants good for health in general, they also help to protect you from fluoride toxicity.

In the ideal scenario, one could drink tea with high levels of antioxidants but low levels of fluoride. Recent research suggests that this might be a somewhat obtainable goal. It has recently been shown that the antioxidant levels in tea are far higher in young leaves, than old leaves. This is important because young leaves also happen to have lower levels of fluoride. Indeed, it has been proposed that the fluoride content of tea is an indicator of its quality: the higher the fluoride, the lower the quality, and vice versa.

If you love tea, therefore, try to purchase varieties that are made from young leaves (e.g., "White tea"). This will allow you to maximize tea's known benefits, while reducing its known harm. Towards this end, avoid bottled and instant teas, as they have been to contain low-quality leaves that have very low levels of antioxidants. With bottled and instant tea, therefore, you get the risk (fluoride) without the benefit (antioxidants). Another option is to drink yerba matte – a caffeinated herbal tea from South America that contains very low levels of fluoride (< 0.2 ppm).

7. Avoid Cooking with Non-Stick Pans

Some research has found that cooking with non-stick-coated pans can significantly increase the fluoride content of food. If you have non-stick pans, consider switching to ceramic or another type of safe pan.

8. Don't Take Cipro and Be Mindful of Other Fluorinated Pharmaceuticals

Many pharmaceuticals are fluorinated, which means they contain something called a "carbon-fluorine bond." Although the carbon-fluoride bond is strong enough to resist breaking down within the body, this is not always the case. Some fluorinated drugs have been found to metabolize into fluoride within the body and this greatly increases a person's exposure to fluoride.

The most notable example is Cipro. Other fluorinated chemicals that are currently known to break down into fluoride include fluorinated anesthetics (Isoflurane & Sevoflurane), Niflumic acid, Flecainide, and Voriconazole. If you are taking any of these drugs, find out if there are any safer alternatives available.

9. Minimize Consumption of Mechanically-Deboned Chicken:

Most meats that are pulverized into a pulp form (e.g., chicken fingers, chicken nuggets) are made using a mechanical deboning processes. This mechanical deboning process increases the quantity of bone particles in the meat.

Since bone is the main site of fluoride accumulation in the body, the higher levels of bone particle in mechanically deboned meat results in significantly elevated fluoride levels. Of all the meats that are mechanically deboned, chicken meat has consistently been found to have the highest levels. Thus, minimize consumption of mechanically deboned chicken.

10. Avoid Fluoridated Salt

If you live in a country that allows fluoridated salt to be sold, make sure the salt you buy is unfluoridated. Consumption of fluoridated salt can greatly increase a person's fluoride exposure. To see a list of countries that allow fluoridated salt, click here. (From: www.fluoridealert.org)

To Protect Your Health, Avoid Fluoride

No matter which scientific studies you examine or which population trends you view, the rational conclusion is that fluoride's health dangers far outweigh the marginal dental benefits it might offer. Dental caries can be effectively prevented with means other than fluoridation, thereby avoiding the adverse effects of fluoride. It's important to realize that fluoride is a cumulative toxin, which over time can lead to serious health concerns, from hypothyroidism to skeletal fluorosis and much more.

The neurological effects are particularly disconcerting. As mentioned, 43 human studies now link moderately high fluoride exposures with reduced IQ.16 We cannot afford to ignore such warnings! Water fluoridation needs to stop. The question is how. Despite all the evidence, getting fluoride out of American water supplies has been exceedingly difficult. It's not impossible, however, as evidenced in areas that have successfully abolished water fluoridation.

According to the late Jeff Green, National Director of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, a repeated theme in the cases where communities successfully removed fluoride from their water supply is the shifting of the burden of proof.

Rather than citizens taking on the burden of proving that fluoride is harmful and shouldn't be added, a more successful strategy has been to hold those making claims, and the elected officials who rely on them, accountable for delivering proof that the specific fluoridation chemical being used fulfills their health and safety claims, and is in compliance with all regulations, laws, and risk assessments already required for safe drinking water. To learn more, please see this previous article, which discusses these strategies more in-depth.

Click Here

Help End the Practice of Fluoridation

There's no doubt about it: fluoride should not be ingested. Even scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory have classified fluoride as a "chemical having substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity.” Furthermore, according to the CDC, 41 percent of American adolescents now have dental fluorosis. Clearly, children are being overexposed, and their health and development put in jeopardy. Why?

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 worldwide. 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, protect your drinking water and support the fluoride-free movement by making a tax-deductible donation to the Fluoride Action Network today.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

I encourage you to visit the website of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and visit the links below:

Together, Let's Help FAN Get the Funding They Deserve

In my opinion, there are very few NGOs that are as effective and efficient as FAN. Its small team has led the charge to end fluoridation and will continue to do so with our help! Please make a donation today to help FAN end the absurdity of fluoridation.

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