The first half of 2012 saw a major victory in the battle for fluoride-free public drinking water in the United States. In April, city officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico, elected not to increase the fluoride content of the community’s water. “We’re going to err on the side of caution,” remarked David Morris, a representative for the Albuquerque Water Authority (i). The decision triggered a ripple effect that stirred debate in neighboring communities, causing public officials and residents alike to reconsider the widely held notion that fluoride is a “healthy.”
Why Ban Water Fluoridation?
So, why ban water fluoridation? The American Dental Association, the Food and Drug Administration, and television commercials all tell us that fluoride is good for our oral health. Unfortunately, there is a large amount of misinformation regarding fluoride, fluoridated water, and the ways in which fluoride may or may not protect our teeth. To date, there is no clinical evidence supporting the claim that fluoride reduces the incidence of tooth decay. There is, however, a growing body of research that ties fluoride ingestion with both allergic reaction and a number of other serious illnesses.
Fluoride ingestion may cause a hypersensitive reaction in some individuals. The Physician’s Desk Reference, a standard index for health professionals that lists the most commonly prescribed medications by product name, manufacturers, and known side effects, recognizes hypersensitivity to fluoride as an allergy. Moreover, side effects like hypersensitivity and skin irritation have been documented in both blind and double blind studies (ii). In one particular study, six small children and one adult exhibited serious allergic reactions to both toothpastes and vitamin supplements that were prepared with fluoride (iii). Countless studies, like these, also indicate that fluoride may cause a serious allergic reaction after ingestion.
Gastrointestinal (GI) Irritation is another side effect of fluoride ingestion. This occurs after hydrofluoric acid—the type of fluoride that is added to drinking water—enters the stomach and mixes with our body’s natural digestive acids and enzymes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hydrofluoric acid has a corrosive effect on the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Depending on the level of hydrofluoric acid ingested, this corrosive effect may cause nausea, abdominal pain, or vomiting. These symptoms are also signs of acute fluoride poisoning. Just 5 to 10 grams of fluoride is enough to cause major organ damage or death in an average sized adult; for a small child, it takes only 500 mg.
The stomach and intestines are not the only organs affected by fluoride ingestion, however. Both human and animal studies indicate that fluoride may have a serious effect on brain development. In China, researchers found that children exposed to high concentrations of fluoridated water scored up to four points lower on IQ exams compared to children who were not exposed to high levels of fluoride (iv). In the United States, an animal study conducted in 1998 revealed more specific and alarming side effects of exposure. Specifically, the study drew strong correlations between fluoride ingestion and serious side effects on brain structures including accumulation of fluoride in the pineal gland, damage to the hippocampus, and the formation of beta-amyloid plaques—the most commonly known brain abnormality associated with Alzheimer’s disease (v).
For now, a majority of communities in the United States will continue receiving fluoridated drinking water. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 60% of the total population receives ample doses of hydrofluoric acid in their drinking water. If the thought of fluoridated water makes you feel uneasy, you are not alone. Speak with a holistic dentist about water filtration devices that effectively remove fluoride and other impurities from your water. A holistic dentist may also help you to structure your diet in a way that proactively avoids processed foods, beverages, toothpastes, mouth rinses, and other consumer goods that contain high levels of fluoride. A holistic dental practice may also provide fluoride-free dental cleanings and general procedures to further reduce your exposure to the toxic mineral.
For more information regarding fluoride-free dentistry, please call Assure a Smile at 305-274-0047.
(i) Galus, Jill. Water Authority Cuts Fluoride from City Water.
(iv) Wang SX, ZH Wang, and J Li. “Aresenic and Fluoride Exposure in Drinking Water.” 2007.
(v) Varner J.A. “Chronic Administration of Aluminum-fluoride and Sodium-fluoride to Rats in Drinking Water. 1998.