10 Facts About Fluoride

1.) 97% of western Europe has chosen fluoride-free water

This includes: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, and Switzerland. (While some European countries add fluoride to salt, the majority do not.) Thus, rather than mandating fluoride treatment for the whole population, western Europe allows individuals the right to choose, or refuse, fluoride.
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2.) Fluoride is the only chemical added to drinking water for the purpose of medication (to prevent tooth decay)

All other treatment chemicals are added to treat the water (to improve the water’s quality and safety – which fluoride does not do). This is one of the reasons why most of Europe has rejected fluoridation. For instance:

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  • In Germany, “The argumentation of the Federal Ministry of Health against a general permission of fluoridation of drinking water is the problematic nature of compulsion medication.”
  • In Belgium, it is “the fundamental position of the drinking water sector that it is not its task to deliver medicinal treatment to people. This is the sole responsibility of health services.”
  • In Luxembourg, “In our views, drinking water isn’t the suitable way for medicinal treatment and that people needing an addition of fluoride can decide by their own to use the most appropriate way.”

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Although some proponents claim that fluoride cannot be a medicine because it occurs “naturally” (at very low levels), the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has confirmed that fluoride is a drug when used to prevent, treat, or mitigate a disease.
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3.) Contrary to previous belief, fluoride has minimal benefit when swallowed.

When water fluoridation began in the 1940s and ’50s, dentists believed that fluoride was a “nutrient” that needed to be swallowed in order to be most effective. This belief, however, has now been discredited by an extensive body of modern research.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, fluoride is not a nutrient (i.e., humans do not need fluoride for the prevention of any disease, including tooth decay). Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control has now conceded that fluoride’s “predominant effect” is “topical”. In other words, any benefits that accrue from the use of fluoride, come from the direct application of fluoride to the outside of teeth (after they have erupted into the mouth) and not from ingestion. There is no need, therefore, to expose all other tissues to fluoride by swallowing it (as inevitably occurs when fluoride is added to water).
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4.)  Fluoridated water is no longer recommended for babies.

In November of 2006, the American Dental Association (ADA) advised that parents should avoid giving babies fluoridated water. Although the ADA has since backtracked on this recommendation, many dental researchers have made similar recommendations over the past two decades.

Babies exposed to fluoride are at high risk of developing dental fluorosis – a permanent tooth defect caused by fluoride damaging the cells which form the teeth. The fluorosis caused during infancy will often appear on the child’s most cosmetically important teeth (the front two teeth), which may embarrass the child and cause other forms of social distress.

Other tissues in the body may also be affected by early-life exposures to fluoride. According to a review published in the medical journal The Lancet, fluoride may damage the developing brain, causing learning deficits and other problems. A more recent review by a team of Harvard scientists found that most studies which have investigated fluoride’s effect on IQ have found reductions in intelligence.
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5.) There are FAR LESS INTRUSIVE WAYS OF delivering fluoride then adding it to water.

By adding fluoride to everyone’s tap water, many infants and other at-risk populations will be put in harm’s way. This is not only wrong, it is unnecessary. As western Europe has demonstrated, there are many equally effective and less-intrusive ways of delivering fluoride to people who actually want it. For example:

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  • Topical fluoride products such as toothpaste and mouthrinses (which come with explicit instructions not to swallow) are readily available at all grocery stores and pharmacies. Thus, for those individuals who wish to use fluoride, it is very easy to find and very inexpensive to buy.
  • If there is concern that some people in the community cannot afford to purchase fluoride toothpaste (a family-size tube of toothpaste costs as little as $2 to $3), the money saved by not fluoridating the water can be spent subsidizing topical fluoride products (or non-fluoride alternatives) for those families in need.
  • The vast majority of fluoride added to water supplies is wasted, since over 99% of tap water is not actually consumed by a human being. It is used instead to wash cars, water the lawn, wash dishes, flush toilets, etc.

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6.) Ingestion of fluoride has little benefit, but many risks.

Whereas fluoride’s benefits come from topical contact with teeth, its risks to health (which involve many more tissues than the teeth) result from being swallowed.

Adverse effects from fluoride ingestion have been associated with doses attainable by people living in fluoridated areas. For example:

Risk to the brain. According to the National Research Council (NRC), fluoride can damage the brain. Animal studies conducted in the 1990s by EPA scientists found dementia-like effects at the same concentration (1 ppm) used to fluoridate water, while human studies have found adverse effects on IQ at levels as low as 0.9 ppm among children with nutrient deficiencies, and 1.8 ppm among children with adequate nutrient intake.

Risk to the thyroid gland. According to the NRC, fluoride is an “endocrine disrupter.” Most notably, the NRC has warned that doses of fluoride (0.01-0.03 mg/kg/day) achievable by drinking fluoridated water, may reduce the function of the thyroid among individuals with low-iodine intake. Reduction of thyroid activity can lead to loss of mental acuity, depression and weight gain.

Risk to bones. According to the NRC, fluoride can diminish bone strength and increase the risk for bone fracture. While the NRC was unable to determine what level of fluoride is safe for bones, it noted that the best available information suggests that fracture risk may be increased at levels as low 1.5 ppm, which is only slightly higher than the concentration (0.7-1.2 ppm) added to water for fluoridation.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors/source and do not necessarily reflect the position of CSGLOBE or its staff.

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