In America, fluoride is hailed as a great public health service, as the savior of countless teeth for generations. It’s added to our drinking water & toothpaste and applied directly to our teeth at the dentist’s office. The American Dental Association and other groups are very proud of this substance and frequently tout its benefits and necessity – yet, when you stop to look at it, there’s a real problem with fluoride.
To start with, have you ever considered its origin? Where does fluoride come from anyway?
Why is adding fluoride to drinking water illegal in the European Union?
How have cavity rates fallen in both the U.S. and Europe since the 1950s if over 75% of Europe has never added fluoride to public water supplies?
What is Fluoride?
Several types of fluoride exist: calcium fluoride, sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, and sodium fluorosilicate. Calcium fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral and doesn’t pose a threat to our health under normal exposure.
Unfortunately, our water supplies are not fluoridated with calcium fluoride. Instead, the forms used are sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, and sodium fluorosilicate – byproducts of the phosphate fertilizer industry.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), while extolling the virtues of fluoride, freely states, “Most fluoride additives used in the United States are produced from phosphorite rock. Phosphorite is mainly used for manufacturing phosphate fertilizer.”
While the CDC and other government agencies maintain that these byproducts are perfectly safe and even beneficial in our drinking water, the same byproducts are considered environmental pollutants when they’re released into the atmosphere or dumped into rivers.
In a 2000 interview, Dr. William Hirzy, who has served several terms as the Senior Vice-President of the EPA’s National Treasury Employees Union, stated plainly,
If this stuff gets out into the air, it’s a pollutant; if it gets into the river, it’s a pollutant; if it gets into the lake it’s a pollutant; but if it goes right into your drinking water system, it’s not a pollutant… There’s got to be a better way to manage this stuff.
Prior to the development of “wet scrubbers” (or “vacuum evaporators”) that capture industrial gases for proper disposal, the hydrogen fluoride and silicon tetrafluoride were simply allowed to escape into the atmosphere. In the areas downwind of the phosphate fertilizer factories, the gases caused stunted growth of crops, burned peppers and fruit, and swollen joints, loss of teeth, and eventual starvation of cattle.
Once owners of these crops and livestock began suing phosphate manufacturers, the industry had to find a way to dispose of the byproducts without polluting the atmosphere. In came the wet scrubbers … and a new customer: public water supply facilities.
Read this excellent article, The Phosphate Fertilizer Industry: An Environmental Overview to learn more.
Now that we know where fluoride comes from and what its effects are if released into the atmosphere, we have to ask ourselves another question.
Does Fluoride Prevent Cavities?
All our lives, we’ve been told that fluoride is a miracle mineral that makes teeth healthy and strong and keeps cavities at bay. Interestingly, the statistics paint a different picture.
In America, cities that add fluoride to the water supply have a higher rate of cavities than cities that do not. Over half of Canada and 97 percent of Europe does not add fluoride to tap water – in fact, fluoridazation of the water is illegal in the European Union – and cavity rates there are in the same range as those in America.
A comparison of World Health Organization data on cavity rates among 12-year-olds shows that the United States ranks #12 in percent of children with tooth decay, missing, or filled teeth. Five of the nations with less tooth decay than America have absolutely no fluoridation in any part of the country. Two others have fluoridation rates less than 12 percent.
Is fluoride really the deciding factor here? Or…
Could better nutrition and oral hygiene be the true cause of tooth decay’s decline over the last 70 years?
Just What is the Problem with Fluoride Then?
Long term exposure to fluoride has been linked to numerous disorders including:
- mottled teeth
An increasingly common result of fluoride exposure is dental fluorosis, characterized by damage to tooth enamel that leaves white spots or streaks, brown stains, or pitting of the teeth.
According to the CDC, 41 percent of American children now have dental fluorosis – quadruple the number of affected children in 1960. The CDC and WHO both freely admit that this condition is caused by excess fluoride exposure before age eight. The known causes include:
- consuming fluoride toothpaste
- drinking fluoridated water (especially in infancy)
- using fluoride tablets
- eating processed foods made with fluoridated water
Fluoride also inhibits proper functioning of the thyroid by forcing vital iodine out of the gland. A healthy thyroid is essential for proper immune system function and to enable the body to correctly utilize the energy from food. The results of fluoride’s effects on the thyroid are general fatigue and weight gain caused by the inability to correctly burn the calories eaten.
Fluoride and Cancer
After years of research, chemist and M.I.T. Graduate Raymond Francis writes that “Fluoride both switches on and drives cancer.”
Our own U.S. Congress has held discussions regarding the toxicity of fluoride in drinking water dating back to at least 1961. The official Congressional Record documents all of these conversations. In it, one can see that Dr. Dean Burke, who was then chief chemist of the National Cancer Institute, told Congress in 1976, “In point of fact, fluoride causes more cancer death, and causes it faster than any other chemical.”
Findings from the National Academy of Sciences show that current levels of fluoride in tap water limit the action of at least 100 enzymes required for proper functioning of the body. Among the enzymes affected are those that
- repair damaged DNA
- enable the body to correctly transfer oxygen from the lungs to the cells
- govern apoptosis, the process by which damaged or mutated cells die and are disposed of (Damaged or mutated cells that do not undergo apoptosis can become cancerous.)
Doesn’t the government set safe limits on the amount of fluoride in water?
Yes, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a limit on the amount of fluoride that can be added to tap water. Yet they don’t seem to be able to agree with themselves on what level is safe.
Originally, the EPA ruled that 1 part per million (ppm) was the maximum amount of fluoride that could be safely added to drinking water. Later, this same agency decided to raise the safety limit to 4 ppm after discovering that in some cities’ the water supply already contained natural fluoride amounts greater than 1 ppm.
At any rate, the safety limit set for fluoride in drinking water doesn’t take into account the many other sources of fluoride that we encounter everyday.
In America, our primary exposure to fluoride is through fluoridated tap water. About 75 percent of cities in the U.S. add fluoride to their water supplies.
Many other sources of fluoride exist, some of which may surprise you.
- Anti-Cavity Rinse
- processed foods manufactured using fluoridated water
- snack foods
- packaged drinks made with fluoridated water
- “made from concentrate” fruit juices
- soft drinks
- alcoholic beverages
- bottled water
- fruits and vegetables that were watered with fluoridated water
How to Protect Yourself From Fluoride Exposure
Thankfully, excessive fluoride exposure is not inevitable. You have many options for protecting yourself and your family by minimizing your exposure. Probably the most important step is to make the switch to water that is free of fluoride.
Standard water filters, such as faucet-mount filters and pitcher filters, do not filter out fluoride. This chemical is so tiny that it passes through the membranes of these common filters.
Instead, you’ll need to use a reverse osmosis water filter system. We installed an APEC under-sink system over a year ago and have been completely satisfied with it. It supplies completely pure water, free of chlorine, fluoride, and other contaminants, to a special faucet at our kitchen sink and to our refrigerator’s water dispenser and ice maker.
Big Berkey water purifiers, which sit on the counter, are a popular choice for removing fluoride. They do tend to run higher in price than the system we bought.
I had assumed that a reverse osmosis water filtration system would cost several hundred dollars, which is why I didn’t buy one many years ago. I should have done some shopping instead of assuming I knew the cost! The system we bought cost just $200, and I found other under-sink systems for as low as $120. That’s a very reasonable price to pay for peace of mind.
Distilled water is also fluoride free (unless the bottling company adds fluoride – check the label!) If you prefer not to buy bottled distilled water, you can buy an at-home water distiller. I have no experience with these, but they range from about $100 to $600 on Amazon.
Fluoride Free Toothpaste
The second most important change, in my opinion, is to switch to a fluoride free toothpaste. Several companies offer effective toothpastes that contain no fluoride. We used to use Tom’s of Maine brand before I started making my own homemade toothpaste.
The water we drink and food we eat are unquestionably the two most important factors related to our health – or lack thereof. When seeking a holistic lifestyle, it’s important to build a solid foundation first by drinking plenty of pure water each day and eating wholesome, nourishing foods.
Thankfully, we live in a place and time where clean water is abundant and easily accessible – now we just need to purify it!
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Balch, Phyllis A., CNC and James F. Balch, M.D. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Avery, 2000.
FluorideAlert.org. Fluoride Action Network, 2017. Web.
Francis, Raymond, M.Sc. Never Fear Cancer Again: How to Prevent and Reverse Cancer. Health Communications, Inc., 2011.
Gerson, Charlotte and Morton Walker, D.P.M. The Gerson Therapy: The Proven Nutritional Program for Cancer and Other Illnesses. Kensington Books, 2006.
“Water Fluoridation Additives Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 22 December 2014. Web. Accessed 27 April 2017.
This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is intended only for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure disease. Always consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your healthcare routine.
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