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Open Wide and Take Your Fluoride?

Open Wide and Take Your Fluoride?

From time to time over the years, Iíve heard people going on about the dangers of fluoride in the water–from obscure health risks to government conspiracies intended to keep the population compliant. I have always dismissed these as wild, paranoid theories; after all, the CDC has listed fluoride in the water as one of the greatest health innovations of the 20th century.

My facile dismissal of the issue may also have had something to do with the funny scene in the movie “Dr. Strangelove” in which General Jack D. Ripper says that fluoride in the water is an “international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.” That’s probably the best way to defuse concerns about government policy: Make the people who question or oppose it look like goofball nutcases.

Recently, however, I decided to actually look up the data on fluoridation and see what was there. I was surprised to find that the benefits of fluoridated water are not so clear cut as we’ve been led to believe. The studies used to support fluoridation are not as high-quality as they might be, and the risks (mottling of the teeth) are not negligible. Mass fluoridation of the water supply may have prevented some cavities, maybe even enough to justify the CDC’s bold proclamation. On the other hand, better nutrition, better toothbrushes, and more emphasis on dental hygiene may be responsible.

The most common and established side-effect of fluoride is mottling of the teeth. The risks are increased because fluoride is not only in the water, but in any food or drink made with water. We don’t always know how much we are getting.

My survey of the fluoride situation didnít raise serious alarms, however. The risk/benefit ratio may not be all that impressive, but the harms donít seem that bad, either. My children drank fluoridated water throughout their childhoods–and lots of it–and their teeth seem fine and neither has had a cavity. However, after looking over the issue, it does seem strange that a society would medicate a large portion of the population (not all water systems are fluoridated and not all citizens are on municipal water) through the water supply–especially when the benefits of the “treatment” are weak.

In 2000, Douglas Carnall, editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote, “Professionals who propose compulsory preventive measures for a whole population have a different weight of responsibility on their shoulders than those who respond to the requests of individuals for help. Previously neutral on the issue, I am now persuaded by the arguments that those who wish to take fluoride (like me) had better get it from toothpaste rather than the water supply.”

Whatever fluoride does or does not do, it seems not to have made Dr. Carnall too compliant.

Fluoride, however, may be small beer when it comes to compulsory medication: Stay tuned for more on folate in your cereal.

Read more: Blogs, Diet & Nutrition, Simply Healthy

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Avery Hurt

Avery Hurt is a health and science journalist. Her work appears regularly in national publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, Newsweek, and The New Physician. She is author of Bullet With Your Name On It: What You Will Probably Die From And What You Can Do About It (Clerisy Press, 2007) and Donít Worry, Iím Not Contagious: Your Guide to Staying Healthy in an Infectious World, due out from Clerisy, fall 2008. She is at work on her third book, on alternative medicine.

24 comments

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8:39AM PST on Nov 23, 2012

To Eve M,
With all due respect, I have done the research on both sides. When you take in account the amount of fluoride in our water, toothpaste, mouthwash, fluoride treatments by the dentist, etc. you can be assured we are getting too much fluoride. How many bottles or fluoride tap water do you drink in a day? How many times do your brush your teeth in a day? How many times do you use mouthwash or other products in a day? I don't know about you but I don't want to ingest poison but more so give it to the children. If one would practice good hygiene there would be no need for added chemicals to be put in our bodies. Fluoride is not the only dangerous chemical we consume on a daily basis. JMHO

11:15PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Fluoride is a cumulative poison which does only harm.

10:37AM PDT on Sep 18, 2011

I ONLY use flouride free toothpaste and have NEVER had a cavity! Say NO to flouride!!! And also tea contains high amounts of flouride, especially green tea, however white tea contains less flouride I recommend switching to white tea if you care about your health.

12:06PM PDT on Jun 5, 2011

Thanks.

4:29AM PST on Jan 4, 2011

Thanks for the article.

3:02PM PST on Mar 5, 2010

Fluoride in toothpaste is not good for you at all (health and IQ - see below)

Fluoride accumulates in the Pineal gland (also known as the third eye spiritually). The Pineal which produces melatonin in your body to help defend your health accumulates fluoride - this is NOT good) , and the fluoride does reduce IQ. These are just some of the health impacts of fluoride:

See fluoridealert.org (especially the video) for free.

10:35PM PST on Jan 25, 2010

Thanks for getting the truth out .

2:50PM PST on Dec 5, 2009

Hi Eve M.
First and important: Thank you so much for your curiosity, interst,humanity and following up my comments.
Second: I feel sorry as I caused truble to you and to be so nervous which came out due to your curiosity as I understood...you have the right to all of that.
Now be relax and ease and think of what I am going to say:
It seems you and may be other missunderstood me and the message I tried to send or I couldnot explain my self clearly and my comment might be not clear enough to be understood... so that I am sorry as I troubled you in the comment on floride.
Hi Eve M.
I never said and will never say that it is safe to take floride and it is not risky.
I admite that it is unsafe and has risks on humans again floride is unsafe and risky on bones teeth muscles....etc if taken extra.
What I tried to say (in details) is that our water is impure and we use (buy) filtered water (for drinking, cooking). we use tooth past for brushing our teeth with floride> then later said any substance taken much is harm, cause disease not just risk...taking the required amount I believe will not harm...
Hi Eve M.
Again I feel so sorry for causing you trouble and I hope you understood me now.

11:54AM PST on Dec 5, 2009

friendsofwater

i approached this discussion with an open mind. that's why i looked all all the links you've posted. i take this issue very seriously.

and you have been lying. i'm sorry to have to state that so plainly, but when you tell people something without even checking to see if it's true, multiple times, you are doing exactly what glenn beck does.

i am not questioning your motives, but if you say something untrue on a public forum, it should not stand, should it?

hi abo,

i encourage you to read as much as you can about this subject! i am not here to change anyone's mind. if anyone was saying fluoride made you live 10 years longer, i would check that claim too. i just can't stand watching paranoia and fear spread without reason.

have a peaceful, joyous weekend everybody!

10:27AM PST on Dec 5, 2009

Friendsof Water
THank you for your comment sent .
I agree that the issue of flourid needs discussion and what I mentioned in my first comment that:
Thanks we drink filtered water and brush our teeth with past with flourid for 2 reasons our water is impure and salty,and we donot take much flourid

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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