I'm a traditionally-trained Pediatrician and when I was in private practice, I was an advocate for having fluoride in our water supply to help children and adolescents have strong teeth and less cavities. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatricians reported that fluoride is safe and effective for preventing and controlling cavities. A 2010 study confirmed that drinking fluoridated water as a child strengthens teeth, and makes tooth loss less likely later in life.1
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that fluoride has been effective in the U.S. for over 65 years. All over the country, scientists have been studying the impact of water fluoridation. Among their findings, they reported:
- A 2010 study in New York found that low-income residents in less fluoridated counties needed 33 percent more fillings, root canals and extractions than those in counties where fluoridated water was common. 2
- An Alaskan study released in 2011 shows that children living in non-fluoridated areas had a 32 percent higher rate of decayed, missing or filled teeth than children in fluoridated communities. 3
- The author of a 2010 fluoridation study concluded that the research confirms that “the most effective source of fluoride” is water fluoridation. 4
What is Fluoride?
According to the National Toxicology Program, "the preponderance of evidence from laboratory 'in vitro' studies indicates that fluoride is a mutagen" (a compound that can cause genetic damage) It is also accepted that if a substance can induce this genetic damage, it can cause cancer as well. Proponents of water fluoridation have argued that the levels we drink are much lower than the levels used in these scientific studies that suggest that fluoride in our diets is not healthy. In fact, it has been shown that the blood levels "in vivo" (that is in the human body) are much lower than those used in the studies which showed fluoride as a cancer-causing agent. But there are "microenvironments" in the body that accumulate fluoride levels that are comparable to those used in the mutagen studies. One such area in in our bones! Fluoride has been used for years as a gas fumigant to kill insects and rodents in food processing warehouses. In fact, last year the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) helped convince the U.S. Environmental Agency to phase out ALL sulfuryl fluoride pesticides from the U.S. food supply.
What are the Facts About Fluoride?
The following "Fluoride Facts" are just a few that have recently come out:
- Fluoride is classified by the U.S. FDA for the purpose of reducing tooth decay as an "unapproved" drug. The FDA doesn't allow "unapproved" drugs to be used in this country, so why is it allowed in our public water supply?
- Fluoride is not a nutrient. In fact, there is not a single process in our body that requires fluoride!
- Bottle-fed infants receive approximately 175 - 200 times more fluoride than a breast-fed infant when their formula is made with tap water.
- Dental fluorosis (discoloration and pitting of the teeth due to fluoride) is common in about 41% of all American children who drink water from a fluoridated public source.
- Fluoride ingestion has been found to damage soft tissues, in addition to our teeth and bones.
- There are 24 published studies that demonstrate a strong relationship between exposure to fluoride and reduced IQ in children.
- The chemicals used to fluoridate our water supplies (derived from the fertilizer industry) have never been required to be tested for safety or effectiveness by any regulatory agency anywhere in the world.
- A study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant found NO relationship between tooth decay and the amount of fluoride ingested by children.
What Exactly does Fluoride Affect?
The following areas of the body have been shown to be affected by fluoride:
- Bones- a series of studies have shown that fluoride can cause a type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. It is a rare cancer, but deadly. In addition, our bones are constantly undergoing remodeling (old bone is removed and new bone is formed). When bone contains fluoride and is destroyed in this process, fluoride is released back into the body. Skeletal fluorosis can lead to a form of arthritis.
- Immune System- Our body's immunity comes largely from our bones in the form of white blood cells that help us remain free from disease. When bone turnover occurs, our immune system cells and stem cells are exposed to concentrations of fluoride that are higher than in our bloodstreams.
- Reproductive System- More research needs to be done in this area, but the few studies that have been done suggest that high concentrations of fluoride might be associated with alterations in reproductive hormones. This might affect fertility and development. A tremendous amount of research has been done in animal models which also shows similar results to the few human studies that have been done.
- Gastrointestinal Tract- nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain are among the most common symptoms of acute fluoride poisoning. In humans with skeletal fluorosis, studies have found an increased occurrence of gastrointestinal disorders. If fluoride is reduced in these patients, the gastrointestinal problems are among the first symptoms to go.
- Thyroid- Fluoride affects the thyroid. Up until the 1970's, European doctors used fluoride as a thyroid-suppressing medication in patients who were hyperthyroid (over-active thyroid). Today, there are many people who live in communities where the fluoride levels are at or near the same as the dose that the European doctors used to suppress thyroid function.
- Pineal Gland - The Pineal Gland is a small gland that is located between the two hemispheres of the brain. It regulates the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin helps regulate the onset of puberty, helps regulate our sleep cycles and helps protect our bodies from free radical damage. Recent studies have shown that the Pineal Gland accumulates more fluoride than any other part of the body. In animal studies, it has been shown that female rats undergo puberty earlier than those not treated with fluoride. Human studies are being conducted.
What Should We Do About Fluoride?
Well as a Pediatrician, the obvious solution is to not ingest fluoride! But there's fluoride everywhere. So don't drink fluoridated water, don't mix your baby's formula with tap water, don't use fluoridated toothpaste (if a child were to eat a tube of toothpaste, there is enough fluoride in it to kill him or her). You can find water filters for your house that remove fluoride, but they are expensive. You can join groups that are petitioning for the removal of fluoride from our municipal water supplies. Or drink from a water source that doesn't have fluoride in it. Recently, ARIIX introduced the Puritii Water Bottle with a Puritii Water Filter. This patent-pending technology is ground-breaking in that you can virtually get pure drinking water from any source using this filter. All of the chlorine and toxins are removed as well as virtually all of the biologicals. Fifteen to 20% of the fluoride is removed with the first generation of the Puritii Filter. A later filter will remove more of the fluoride. So this is a good start! It's time to take back our health from those who threaten it!
1 "The Association Between Community Water Fluoridation and Adult Tooth Loss." American Journal of Public Health, 2010.
2 “Geographic Variation in Medicaid Claims for Dental Procedures in New York State: Role of Fluoridation Under Contemporary Conditions,” Public Health Reports, 2010
3 “Dental Caries in Rural Alaska Native Children,” Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report, CDC, 2008
4 Pew Center on the States. "Water Fluoridation: Frequently Asked Questions." 2011