You probably already know that fluoridation isn’t the right choice for your dental (and overall) health. (And if you don’t…) But it’s not just a matter of personal choice – not when public policy dictates the fluoridation of our water sources. Biological dentist Dr. Bill Glaros calls it “forced medication without representation.”
A recent paper in the Medical Journal of Chile describes fluoridation’s consequences in great detail. These include osteo-skeletal, neurological, endocrine, and dermatological effects. But perhaps the benefits outweigh such risks?
Definitely not, say the authors, documenting that the global decrease in caries (tooth decay) we’ve seen over the past 50 years has occurred in both countries with and without fluoridation. “Therefore,” they write,
fluoridation of drinking water and salts have no incidence at all in reducing dental deterioration. The best hygiene and food habits (reducing carbohydrates) are still the most effective.
But still, fluoridation persists – albeit at slightly lower levels here in the States than in years past. The problem? People were getting too much fluoride. After all, it’s readily available in all kinds of inexpensive hygiene products, including every major brand of toothpaste.
So it’s no surprise that dental fluorosis has been on the rise, too. In fact, rates have jumped 600% in the past 60 years, according to the Fluoride Action Network.
“Dental and skeletal fluorosis,” note the authors of the Chilean study, “are signs of chronic and excessive ingestion of fluoride.”
As the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine noted in a 2013 position statement,
Fluoride in the public water supply is not dosed for individual patients. Some individuals may ingest more water due to warmer climates, work conditions or athletic events. But if that water is fluoridated, their dosage of fluoride cannot be effectively monitored. As a result, they will be ingesting larger undosed amounts of fluoride, increasing their potential for damaging side effects. We know that children frequently should not be given the same size dosage as adults. Yet when the public water supply is fluoridated, any small child could receive the same dose of fluoride as a full-grown adult.
The commendable goal of prevention should be advanced by effective routes, not by fluoride. When the public water supply is fluoridated, fluoride is taken into the body systemically when people drink water. Fluoride taken systemically has little to no effect in decreasing tooth decay.
Meanwhile, up in Northern California, the courts are being asked to weigh in. As Earth Easy recently reported, “a coalition of groups including Food and Water Watch, The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, Fluoride Action Network, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Moms against Fluoridation, and several private citizens,” has asked the US District Court
to assess whether fluoridation of water indeed presents an “unreasonable risk” and can compel the EPA to ban the addition of fluoride to public drinking water. Michael Connett, legal counsel for the plaintiffs, explains that “if the EPA applies its own risk assessment procedures to fluoride, it would recognize the potential for harm from fluoridated water.” Moreover, Connett points to “recent epidemiological data showing little or no difference [in caries incidence] in fluoridated vs. unfluoridated communities.” Though there have been some conflicting studies showing declines in rates of dental decay, Connett points out that “the magnitude of benefit” is small and needs to be weighed against the potential harm.
As more research is published and as more dental and medical professionals speak about the harmful effects of swallowing fluoride, hopefully we will see a much needed change in policy.
Image by Killan Martin, via Flickr