Fluoride: 4 key facts

Do concerns over the additive hold water?

Facts about fluoride - Health BeatIt’s been credited with transforming modern dental health, yet most of us have never seen it, touched it or even tasted it.

This invisible wonder is called fluoride, yet today some wonder if there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing.

We consulted a local expert, Bill Bush, MD, pediatrician-in-chief at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, to offer four key facts about fluoride:

FACT 1: Fluoride helps fight cavities

Seventy years ago, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first community in the U.S. to fluoridate its water supply, designed to prevent tooth decay among its citizenry. By the mid-1960s, cities everywhere started adding the ingredient to their drinking supplies.

The results of fluoridation were hard to argue with, Dr. Bush noted.

“If you go back generations, think about how horrible people’s teeth were,” Dr. Bush said. “It’s because we didn’t supplement fluoride. In some areas, everybody at school would get varnish painted on their teeth to protect them. Now, most of your cities’ water supplies are supplemented with it, and we don’t have to do that. But that’s what they used to do. Kids would line up to get their teeth varnished in school.”

Like that old-fashioned varnish, fluoride covers the teeth underneath with a protective coating.

“Fluoride’s necessary because it keeps plaque from being able to build up on teeth,” Dr. Bush explained. “I always describe it to families as the shield on your tooth, keeping it from getting decayed.”

FACT 2: Fluoridation is recommended by experts

Dr. Bush isn’t alone in his appreciation of fluoride’s place in dental health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association agree that fluoride is effective in preventing tooth decay in children and adults. The dental association touts fluoridation as having “dramatically improved the oral health of tens of millions of Americans,” since Grand Rapids started the trend in ’45.

“Community water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay,” the association noted in its literature.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services also recommend fluoridation–within appropriate levels. Because of the addition of fluoride to many toothpastes, as well as in food we buy, the agencies are recommending levels of 0.7 parts per million of fluoride in drinking water.

FACT 3: Fluoride is found naturally in our water

Whether it is added to it or not, a little bit of fluoride is natural in our water. According the City of Grand Rapids website, Grand Rapids’ water source from Lake Michigan has a natural fluoride level that generally varies from 0.1 to 0.2 parts per million. Fluoride is added in the treatment process to bring the level up to 0.7 parts per million.

According to the CDC, some 10 million Americans drink water with naturally occurring fluoride at or above recommended levels. As a result, agencies have amended their advice on fluoride a bit.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association have changed the recommendation,” Dr. Bush said. “In the past, every young person that wasn’t on city water, we gave them recommendations to take fluoride supplements. Now we just ask where they’re getting their fluoride from.

“Especially kids, they get fluoride from daycare, and grandma’s house, and their toothpaste, too. If you go to the store, or the restaurant, daycare, church, or school, most likely the water is fluoridated.”

FACT 4: There are side effects from too much fluoride

“The reason why we’ve decreased the amount of supplemental fluoride is if you get too much you get fluorosis,” Dr. Bush said. “Fluorosis causes white streaks on the teeth. Most of that’s reversible, and mostly it’s on baby teeth. Other than fluorosis, I’m not worried about anything else. It’s just not a chemical that causes toxic effects.”


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Comments (2)

  • There is extensive evidence that fluoride can interfere with many important biological processes. Fluoride interferes with numerous enzymes (Waldbott 1978). In combination with aluminum, fluoride interferes with G-proteins (Bigay 1985, 1987). Such interactions give aluminum-fluoride complexes the potential to interfere with signals from growth factors, hormones and neurotransmitters (Strunecka & Patocka 1999; Li 2003). More and more studies indicate that fluoride can interfere with biochemistry in fundamental ways (Barbier 2010).

    Healthy adult kidneys excrete 50 to 60% of the fluoride ingested each day (Marier & Rose 1971). The remainder accumulates in the body, largely in calcifying tissues such as the bones and pineal gland (Luke 1997, 2001). Infants and children excrete less fluoride from their kidneys and take up to 80% of ingested fluoride into their bones (Ekstrand 1994). The fluoride concentration in bone steadily increases over a lifetime (NRC 2006).

    No health agency in fluoridated countries is monitoring fluoride exposure or side effects. No regular measurements are being made of the levels of fluoride in urine, blood, bones, hair, or nails of either the general population or sensitive subparts of the population (e.g., individuals with kidney disease).

    There has never been a single randomized controlled trial to demonstrate fluoridation’s effectiveness or safety. Despite the fact that fluoride has been added to community water supplies for over 60 years, “there have been no randomized trials of water fluoridation” (Cheng 2007). Randomized trials are the standard method for determining the safety and effectiveness of any purportedly beneficial medical treatment. In 2000, the British Government’s “York Review” could not give a single fluoridation trial a Grade A classification – despite 50 years of research (McDonagh 2000). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to classify fluoride as an “unapproved new drug.”.

    Fluorosilicic Acid is the main type of fluoride added to drinking water today and is exremely toxic to the human body. An extract from the following document provided by the CDC states “Reacts with water or steam to produce toxic and corrosive fumes” – http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng1233.html

    • Thank you Phillip Moore for sharing the truth about fluoride. Dropping a small drop of iodine in your water helps to reverse/block the toxic effects of flouride. Sometimes we take experts opinions on things but forget science is a practice. Theories evolve into fact or remain theories until proven scientifically. The harmful effects of fluoride are not a theory they are FACTS! Take the fluoride OUT OF THE WATER!

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