By Dr. Mercola
In 2012 more than 67 percent of Americans received fluoridated water,1 and of those, more than 11 million people were getting fluoride at or above the "optimal" level of 0.7-1.2 milligrams per liter (mg/L), according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Then, in April this year, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that this "optimal" level of fluoride, recommended since 1962, had in fact been set too high, resulting in 40 percent of American teens showing signs of overexposure2--a condition known as dental fluorosis.
So, for the first time in nearly 55 years, the US government lowered its recommended level of fluoride in drinking water3,4,5 to a maximum of 0.7 mg/L. The question is, will this new level protect everyone from overexposure?
Considering the fact that virtually all Americans get fluoride from other sources such as toothpaste, dental rinses, processed foods, and beverages, and the fact that fluoride accumulates in your body over time, chances are this lower level will still pose a health risk for many.
The first public experiment was allowed to continue for more than half a century before a reevaluation of the dosage was done. Now, we'll have to wait another decade before they try to determine whether 0.7 mg/L is really "optimal" or not.
Remember, fluoride is a toxic drug administered without prescription or dosage control, so really, the optimal dosage of fluoride in water is actually zero...
Fluoride Is a Toxic Drug Dispensed Without Prescription or Dosage Control
Fluoride is added to drinking water in an albeit futile attempt to prevent a disease (tooth decay), and as such becomes a medicine by FDA definition—and like most other drugs, there may be side effects.
The severity of those side effects depends on your age, size/weight, health status, and of course the amount of water you consume.
While proponents claim water fluoridation is no different than adding vitamin D to milk, fluoride is not an essential nutrient that many are deficient in, which is the case with vitamin D. Moreover, fluoride isn't even approved by the FDA for the prevention of cavities!
What's worse, it's quite obvious that when you add fluoride to drinking water, you cannot control the dose that people are getting, and this alone is one of the reasons why fluoride should not be added to drinking water at any level.
Doing so can have significant consequences, but the health effects are largely hidden in the general disease statistics, since none of the US agencies promoting fluoridation are tracking and correlating the health outcomes of fluoride exposure.
What Happens to the Fluoride in Your Body?
Approximately 98 percent of the fluoride you consume is absorbed into your blood through your gastrointestinal tract. From there, it enters your body's tissues.
On average, about 50 percent of the fluoride you ingest each day gets excreted through your kidneys, so kidney function is another important factor when it comes to the build-up of fluoride and its potentially toxic effects. The remainder accumulates in your teeth and bones,6 pineal gland,7 and other tissues—including your blood vessels, where it can contribute to calcification.
According to a 500-page long scientific review8 by the National Research Council of the National Academies (NRC), published in 2006, fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can affect your thyroid function9 and even your blood sugar levels.
British researchers recently warned that 15,000 Britons may be needlessly afflicted with hypothyroidism as a result of drinking fluoridated water.10 Thyroid dysfunction is also rampant in the US,11 so from a public health standpoint, it makes no sense whatsoever to medicate the entire population with a drug that can either induce or exacerbate this condition.
Even more disturbing, 43 human studies12 have linked moderately high fluoride exposures with reduced IQ in children, and over 100 animal studies have linked it to brain damage.
Recent research13 has also linked water fluoridation with higher prevalence of ADHD. Using a predictive model, the researchers show that every one percent increase in the portion of the US population drinking fluoridated water in 1992 was associated with 67,000 additional cases of ADHD 11 years later, and an additional 131,000 cases 19 years later.
HHS Ignores Fact that Fluoride Is an Endocrine Disruptor
Despite massive amounts of evidence of harm, US health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) insist that water fluoridation has but one documented risk—dental fluorosis. And they claim dental fluorosis is primarily a cosmetic detriment.14
This ignores the fundamental fact that dental fluorosis is simply the most visible form of fluorosis. If your teeth are being damaged, you may actually be suffering fluoride damage in areas you cannot see as well, such as your bones and internal organs.
In at least one previous study, bone fracture rates rose sharply with increasing severity of dental fluorosis, indicating that dental fluorosis may in fact be an outward sign of damage occurring inside the body.
According to Fluoride Action Network15 (FAN), the HHS whitewashed a number of safety issues when finalizing its new fluoride recommendation, including the impact fluoride has on intelligence.
Besides the 43 studies showing water fluoridation lowers IQ, a number of studies16,17,18,19 have specifically shown that children who have moderate or severe dental fluorosis score lower on tests measuring cognitive skills and IQ.
This suggests that if 40 percent of our kids have dental fluorosis, water fluoridation is likely affecting our children's IQ as well.
Another key factor ignored by the HHS is that fluoride is an endocrine disruptor—a finding reported for the first time in the NRC's 2006 report.20 Endocrine disruptors have the potential to disrupt the biology of both humans and animals, and this is certainly far more significant than severe dental fluorosis!
To learn more about why water fluoridation runs counter to good science, common sense, and the public good, please see the following video, which recounts 10 important fluoride facts. I also strongly encourage you to watch the featured interview with Christopher Bryson to get a clear understanding of the true history of water fluoridation.
Water Fluoridation Was Invented to Solve an Industrial Pollution Problem
Christopher Bryson, an award-winning journalist and former radio producer at the BBC, wrote the book: The Fluoride Deception. Both the book and the interview featured above were published in 2004. The book is based on nearly a decade's worth of research, and it reveals how fluoride—a toxic byproduct of the aluminum industry—ended up being added to drinking water as a dental prophylactic. The commonly repeated history of how water fluoridation came to be states that the practice was spurred on by research from the 1930s, which found that people who drank water containing higher levels of naturally-occurring fluoride tended to have less severe tooth decay.
The real story, however, reveals fluoridation was little more than a well-orchestrated PR stunt, designed to sell an inconveniently toxic reality to an unsuspecting public. In his book, Bryson describes the deeply intertwined interests that existed in the 1940s and '50s between the aluminum industry, the US nuclear weapons program, and the dental industry, which resulted in toxic fluoride being declared not only safe, but beneficial to human health. Prior to 1945 when communal water fluoridation in the US took effect, fluoride was in fact known as a protoplasmic poison that alters the permeability of the cell membrane by affecting certain enzymes.21
A 1936 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association stated that fluoride at the 1 part per million (ppm) concentration is as toxic as arsenic and lead. An editorial published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, October 1, 1944, stated: "Drinking water containing as little as 1.2 ppm fluoride will cause developmental disturbances.
We cannot run the risk of producing such serious systemic disturbances. The potentialities for harm outweigh those for good." Such warnings were not heeded, and today we have even more evidence confirming these conclusions were in fact correct. One of the men responsible for quenching the resistance against water fluoridation was Harold Hodge, who headed up the toxicology department at the University of Rochester.
Back in 1957, Harold Hodge was the nation's leading, most trusted scientist, and buried within declassified files of the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Energy Commission, Bryson found proof showing Hodge was tasked with producing medical information about fluoride that could help defend the government against lawsuits over fluoride pollution—an increasingly expensive and legally sensitive problem. Courtesy of his rank and reputation, when Hodge declared fluoride "absolutely safe" at 1 ppm, people believed him, and the naysayers were dismissed.
The Importance of Understanding Water Fluoridation Within Its Historical Context
Once you understand that the endorsement of fluoride as a dental health prophylactic arose from the need to address increasingly debilitating political and industrial problems relating to fluoride pollution, it becomes easier to see why the US government cannot backpedal and admit the whole thing was a scam. In his 2012 article "Poison is Treatment—Edward Bernays and the Campaign to Fluoridate America,"22 James F. Tracy boldly reveals the PR campaign that created this fake public health measure:
"The wide-scale US acceptance of fluoride-related compounds in drinking water and a wide variety of consumer products over the past half century is a textbook case of social engineering orchestrated by Sigmund Freud's nephew and the 'father of public relations' Edward L. Bernays," he writes. "The episode is instructive, for it suggests the tremendous capacity of powerful interests to reshape the social environment, thereby prompting individuals to unwarily think and act in ways that are often harmful to themselves and their loved ones."
It's unrealistic to believe the government will admit to orchestrating such a scheme, as there may be significant legal ramifications. For this reason, getting water fluoridation abolished has proven to be exceedingly difficult. One successful strategy has been to hold those making claims—and the elected officials who rely on them—accountable for producing 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.
For example, a few years ago, a Tennessee town stopped adding the hydrofluosilicic acid fluoride product they had been using, while still keeping its resolution to fluoridate its water supplies intact (meaning they didn't make a decision on whether it might be harmful). They just haven't been able to find a replacement product that is compliant with existing laws, regulations and safe-water requirements, and they will not add any fluoride product that is not in compliance. To learn more, please see this previous article, which discusses these strategies more in-depth.
The Best Cavity Prevention Is Your Diet
The best way to prevent cavities is not by adding fluoride, but by addressing your diet. One of the keys to oral health is eating a traditional diet rich in fresh, unprocessed vegetables, nuts, and grass-fed meats. By avoiding sugars and processed foods, you prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay in the first place. Scientific American23 recently addressed this issue, also noting that excessive sugar consumption is at the heart of the dental caries problem.
According to Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO's Department of Nutrition for Health and Development: "We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay." Other natural strategies that can significantly improve your dental health is eating plenty of fermented vegetables, and doing oil pulling with coconut oil. Also make sure you're getting plenty of omega-3 fats, as research suggests even moderate amounts of omega-3 fats may help ward off gum disease. My favorite source is krill oil.