When you hear the word fluoride, what comes to mind? If it’s healthy teeth and a bright white smile, I have news for you: Fluoride isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be and can in fact harm your health. It’s an ingredient found in the majority of toothpastes on the market and is also added to most public water supplies in the US.
The same substance that supposedly keeps our teeth healthy can actually cause dental issues, especially in children. Too much fluoride on the teeth can cause dental fluorosis, which occurs as white, brown, or black unsightly spots on teeth. While dental fluorosis is only an aesthetic concern, too much fluoride exposure can also lead to many serious health concerns.
The Dangers of Water Fluoridation
1. It’s been banned in other countries.
Water fluoridation has already been banned in many other countries – including Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
The reason for water fluoridation in the United States is to protect the teeth of low-income children who may not have access to dental care. More than 70% of Americans drink fluoridated tap water.
2. It should only be used as a topical treatment – at most.
If the purpose of fluoride is to promote dental health, fluoridating drinking water is a flawed method. Even dental professionals are now beginning to agree that fluoride should be used only as a topical treatment and should never be swallowed. Studies show that swallowing fluoride can lead to acute toxicity or even death and won’t do much for teeth in the long run.
3. It’s the same kind of fluoride used in cheap, low-grade fertilizer.
If you’re not concerned yet, you may want to know that the fluoride put into drinking water is not the pharmaceutical grade that dentists use. The fluoride in your water is a cheap, low-grade kind that is commonly a hazardous waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry.
4. It’s harmful to babies.
While excessive fluoride consumption can be harmful to anybody, it’s especially dangerous for babies. If you have an infant that is formula-fed, please consider using filtered water rather than fluoridated tap water to make the formula.
5. It’s been linked to tooth decay and other health issues.
According to the Fluoride Action Network, “fluoride is a highly toxic compound, a major industrial air pollutant, a key ingredient in some pesticides and fumigants, the cause of a tooth defect that currently impacts over 40% of American teenagers, and the cause of a devastating bone disease that impacts millions of people throughout the world.”
Excessive fluoride consumption can put you at risk for:
- Acute toxicity (nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, gastric pain)
- Brain damage
- Cardiovascular disease
- Decreased thyroid function
- Endocrine disruption
- Gastrointestinal effects
- Impaired glucose metabolism
- Kidney disease (commonly due to release of fluoride from fluorine-containing drugs)
- Male fertility
- Skeletal fluorosis
- Skin rashes around the mouth in adults
- Weakening of bones
Now that you know the potential risks of too much fluoride, it’s up to you to do something about it.
5 Ways to Reduce Exposure to Fluoride
1. Filter your drinking water.
Reverse osmosis, aluminum oxide or activated alumina fluoride filters will remove the fluoride. Check out water purification options here. Also, be sure to filter water used for ice too or you could risk water fluoridation exposure. Read more in Why Your Ice is Making You Sick.
2. Eat organic produce.
Reduce your exposure to fluoride by opting for organic fruit and vegetables. Fluoride is common ingredient in pesticides used for non-organic produce.
3. Avoid store-bought canned foods.
Fluoride may be used as a preservative in store-bought canned foods. Try canning and home-preserving your own foods.
4. Avoid processed drinks.
Minimize consumption of processed beverages like soda and reconstituted juice. Most are made with fluoridated tap water.
5. Opt for fluoride-free toothpaste.
Fluoride is a key ingredient in most conventional toothpastes found in stores. Choose fluoride-free toothpaste from a reputable brand or make your own toothpaste.
For additional information on the risks of water fluoridation, check out the book The Case Against Fluoride.
About the Author
Alex Hinton, owner of Caretactics, blogs about natural living, real food, mindfulness and wellness. Her goal is to share information that will lead you to improve the world by caring about others, the environment and yourself.
Photo credit: DepositPhotos.com / belchonock
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