You’ve been told that it’s smart to drink fluoridated water because it strengthens your teeth. It’s said that drinking fluoride helps prevent cavities and is totally safe.
If that’s the case, why does your fluoride toothpaste come with the warning If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately? If something is unsafe to swallow even in small quantities, how could it be safe to drink all day? To shower in and cook with?
More people drink fluoridated water in the United States than the rest of the world combined. You would think that American cavity rates would be significantly lower than those in non-fluoridated countries, right?
Wrong. There is no significant difference in cavity rates between the highly-fluoridated U.S. and non-fluoridated countries like Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden and Italy (all of which actually have lower rates of tooth decay than the U.S.).
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride occurs naturally in some sources of water—generally no more than .3 ppm (parts per million) in surface water. Higher, unsafe quantities can occur in groundwater – more on that below.
The kind of fluoride that’s added to city water supplies, toothpaste and pesticides, however, is synthesized in labs. It’s generally added to city water at a dosage of 1 ppm, or more than three times what would occur naturally in fresh water sources.
LiveScience explains, “About 90 percent of the fluoride added to public water supplies comes from silicofluorides, chemicals produced mainly as byproducts from the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers, according to the CDC [Center for Disease Control].” In other words, the fluoride added to city water sources is industrial waste.
When Did We Start Adding Fluoride to Our Water?
It all started when a group of early American settlers started drinking from a fluoride-heavy groundwater source. Although they were known for their weird, stained teeth, they inspired others to start experimenting with with their water supplies. It’s these spotted-tooth settlers that we have to thank for the fluoride that flows through our faucets.
Fluoride Dangers recounts the story:
“Early settlers of Colorado Springs, Colorado, had the strangest looking teeth. Some were yellow, light brown or an ugly dark brown others ragged with holes in the enamel. The mildest discoloration were chalky and paper white. Called ‘Colorado Brown Stain’ or mottled enamel in the early 1900’s until the villainous offender, drinking water laced with calcium fluoride, renamed the condition dental fluorosis.
Those ugly teeth usually had less cavities. So researchers assumed that, since fluoride discolored teeth, and those discolored teeth resisted decay, then fluoride reduces decay, also. Unsophisticated researchers overlooked, or didn’t know that the waters were also calcium and magnesium rich, which we now know is essential for strong bones and teeth.
So the human experiments began. Sodium fluoride was added to a water supply for the first time to decrease dental decay on January 25, 1945, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.”
Wikipedia sums up that:
“Fluoridation became an official policy of the U.S. Public Health Service by 1951, and by 1960 water fluoridation had become widely used in the U.S., reaching about 50 million people. By 2006, 69.2% of the U.S. population on public water systems were receiving fluoridated water.”
Detrimental health effects
Dental fluorosis, the discoloration and weakening of teeth that the Colorado settlers developed, is just the beginning of the harmful health effects of drinking fluoride.
“Excessive fluoride exposure is well known to cause a painful bone disease (skeletal fluorosis). . . [It] has also been linked to a range of other chronic ailments including arthritis, bone fragility, dental fluorosis, glucose intolerance, gastrointestinal distress, thyroid disease, and possibly cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.”
As if that laundry list isn’t enough, it’s documented that fluoride ingestion is especially harmful to infants and children—it damages their developing brains and lowers their IQ. A Harvard study found that children in highly-fluoridated populations had “significantly lower IQs” than children from minimally-fluoridated populations.
The EPA itself admitted that fluoride is a chemical “with substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity.”
Paul Beeber, president and attorney at New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, has said:
“It’s senseless to keep subjecting our children to this ongoing fluoridation experiment to satisfy the political agenda of special-interest groups. Even if fluoridation reduced cavities, is tooth health more important than brain health? It’s time to put politics aside and stop artificial fluoridation everywhere.”
Is fluoride in your water?
You can find out if there’s fluoride in your water by using the Center for Disease Control’s search tool. If you use a private well, or if the CDC’s search tool does not have a report on your area, you can test your own water with home kits. Several home testing options are available online, and there are even YouTube videos that document how boiling down water and looking at it under special lights shows fluoride deposits in the bottoms of pots.
Methods that do (and don’t) remove fluoride from water
Unfortunately, basic filters like Brita and Pur don’t remove fluoride from water. Neither will boiling or freezing it.
You have three options to achieve fluoride-free drinking water:
First is to purchase a filter that works using reverse-osmosis, deionization or activated alumina. Second is to buy a bottled water with a fluoride content of 0.2 ppm or less. Third is to purchase a home water distillation unit.
Simple steps to minimizing your exposure
The Fluoride Action Network recommends 10 ways to reduce your daily ingestion of the chemical:
1. Stop drinking fluoridated water entirely. Using the three options above you’re already set for this step.
2. Don’t let children use toothpaste that contains fluoride. It’s very difficult to know how much toothpaste your child is swallowing, and they’re even more likely to when brushing with flavored paste. Just skip it and go for the fluoride-free varieties.
3. Don’t get fluoride treatments at the dentist. They’re available as gels and mouth rinses. Pass on them.
4. Don’t cook with non-stick (Teflon) pans. Teflon is made with fluoride. Switch to stainless steel.
5. Eat more fresh food and less processed food. The more processed a food it, the more contaminated water it will contain. Eating fresh food grown with fresh water sources greatly reduces fluoride consumption.
6. Buy organic grape juice and wine. Grapes are a high-pesticide crop, and the pesticides used on them contain a lot of fluoride. Organic is the only way to go with this stuff.
7. Avoid fluoridated salt. Some salts are fluoridated. Avoid them.
8. If you drink green or black tea, switch to younger leaves. Tea leaves are avid absorbers of fluoride. However, the younger they are, the less they’re likely to contain. Go for “white tea” instead of green or black—it will contain the least fluoride.
9. Be mindful of fluoridated pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceuticals Cipro, Isoflurane, Sevoflurane, Niflumic acid, Flecainide and Voriconazole all break down into fluoride in your body. If you take any of these, ask your doctor of there are alternatives available.
10. Minimize consumption of mechanically de-boned chicken. The mechanized de-boning process results in more bits of bone left in the meat. Chicken bones have been consistently shown to contain more fluoride than any other animal bone.
It’s highly unfortunate that the truth about fluoride is not common knowledge, but awareness is growing. Dozens of communities around the world have stopped its use in their public water supply.
Don’t look to the government agencies to protect you. The EPA approves public water fluoride levels of up to 4.0 ppm! That’s 12 times as much as would be found in normal fresh water.
Share this article with family and friends—it’s always easier to achieve new health goals with the support of others! Find a great deal on a filter or distiller? Tweet us @BerryBreeze and let us know how you saved money.