Fluoride: Do we need it? Is it safe? How do we eliminate it?

Fluoride has been in the news again. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been lobbying the government since 2005 to reduce the legal level of fluoride in drinking water. Fluoride is a highly reactive Neurotoxin that is poisonous to the human body when it is ingested in drinking water.

The practice of fluoridation has always been controversial. Recent studies suggest that ingestion of fluoride can damage the thyroid gland and reduce children IQ levels. Other studies indicate that the rate of cavity formation in children is more closely tied to habits that conflict with preventative dental care.

Fluoride poisoning is not a sudden affliction and it is rare due to the low concentrations in our water. However, many of us have been drinking fluoridated water for our entire lifetime, and will continue to accumulate fluoride in our systems as long as we allow our governments to use the poison in our water supplies.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally come out with a recommendation to lower the maximum concentration of fluoride in municipal source water to 0.7 parts per million (or 0.7 mg/liter) from a previous range of 0.7 to 1.2. It is about time, but is a reduction enough, or should it be banned once and for all?

Do we need fluoride in our water?

Fluoride was first introduced into municipal water supplies in 1942 and use became widespread in the 1960’s. Today, it is estimated that 180 million Americans drink fluoridated water.

When fluoride was first introduced to water supplies, it was heralded as a wonderful advancement in the prevention of cavities, especially in children.

Fluoride doesn’t need to be ingested to prevent tooth decay as it can be applied directly to the enamel surface of teeth. However, there were no other alternatives fifty years ago. Over the ensuing years, fluoride has been introduced into toothpaste, thereby eliminating the need for fluoridated water for anyone that brushes their teeth with toothpaste, or practicing other methods of preventive dental care. It is recommended that children can start using toothpaste containing fluoride once they reach the age of 2.

In a recent study, researchers from Statistics Canada compared the tooth decay rates in the provinces of Ontario (which has Canada’s highest fluoridation rate at 75% ) and Quebec (which has the lowest rate at 6%). The research studies more than 5,000 children between the ages of 6 and 19 and found that the children in Quebec had only one half cavity more per child. For this statistically insignificant difference, the 8 million citizens in Ontario are intentionally fed a poisonous chemical in their water supply for life.

The use of fluoridated water has been banned in most of Europe and Asia, with no apparent increase in the incidence of cavities. I was unable to pin down exactly how many countries still allow fluoridation, but it appears to be somewhere between 14 and 32 and the number is decreasing each year.

The answer to whether we need fluoride in our water supply is a resounding NO.

Is fluoride safe?

The recent uproar about fluoride levels in our water supply have focused on dental fluorosis, which causes a discoloration in teeth of about 30% of our children. While nobody wants their kids to have discolored teeth, you have to wonder why nobody is talking about the far more serious problems associated with the prolonged use of fluoride.

The EPA released a study on fluoride a week ago Friday. The study found that prolonged, high intake of fluoride can increase the risk of brittle bones, fractures and crippling bone abnormalities. In fact, fluoride can potentially cause a crippling bone disease called skeletal fluorosis. In more mild forms, symptoms of this disease include chronic joint pain, similar to the symptoms of arthritis

Not enough to scare you? Fluoride has been found to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Fluoride has also been associated with low IQ and mental retardation in children (Hileman, 1988). Fluoride has also been associated with depressing the activity of a healthy thyroid which can be a cause of obesity. More than 20 million people in the United States receive treatment for thyroid problems.

Do you want to drink fluoride in your water? Do you want your children to be drinking water that has been fluoridated? I don’t!

How do you eliminate fluoride from our source water?

The best answer is to stop your municipality from fluoridating your water. How do you do that? Talk to your local elected officials and make it a political issue. Each municipality has the power to add or remove fluoride to its water as it is a local issue. The next time a local election comes around, make sure the fluoride issue is on the ballot. When the local dental association stands up for the inclusion of fluoride in the water, point out that the current research indicates that fluoride is no long needed.

The EPA has published a ten page Q&A Paper on Fluoride that you can read here:

If you want to get fluoride out of you water now (and who wouldn’t once they have read this article), there are steps you can take immediately in terms of filtering the water in your home.

For residential use, Reverse Osmosis systems offer the best solution in terms of efficiency and cost as they remove about 95% and cost from $200 to $600. You can also use activated alumina filters, which cost about $80 with the cansister, which remove about 75%. There is huge drop off to activated carbon filters that are believed to be only slightly effective at removing carbon.

Distillation will remove 100% of fluoride from the water, but it is a costly (usually about $3,000) process that is typically used for a point of entry (whole house) system. While skin does absorb fluoride, the extremely low concentration of fluoride in our water supply which means that distillation is overkill.


Fluoride is not needed in our water supply and it is bad for you.

The primary cavity producing years are from age 6 to age 18. Proper dental hygiene eliminates the need for fluoridated water.

Check with your local municipality to find out if you have fluoride in your water. If you do, take steps to install a filtration system that best suits your needs.

Finally, get proactive about having your municipality remove fluoride from your water supply.

Post script: Here is a link to a good article on the subject written by a MD from Calgary, Canada: http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Fluoridated+water+ineffective+unsafe+unethical/4149640/story.html
The article questions the usefulness and safety of fluoride in our water supplies, but also addresses the ethical issue of whether people should be forced to drink fluoridated water when there is a lack of evidence to support it.

4 Responses to Fluoride: Do we need it? Is it safe? How do we eliminate it?

  1. I have a 7 and 5 year old kids. The 5 has all her baby teeth still and the older kids has lost some. Do they need to have fluoride at the dentist office?

    • Hi Carmen:

      The battle rages on in regards to the use of fluoride. I believe the real problem is that there is money in fluoride…just like there is money in cancer.

      I’m against fluoride in water and fluoride treatments because if you have your kids brush their teeth regularly they should not need fluoride treatments. There are dentists around (not many unfortunately) that won’t use fluoride because they have done their research.

      When I recently moved, one of my first calls was to the water department of the city. I was able to speak to the manager of the huge filtration plant that they installed less than two years ago. I asked about fluoride and leaned that our city doesn’t use fluoride. When I said that was a good thing, the plant manager indicated he was in full agreement. He then said that his desire to be fluoride free was much different than the general public. When I asked why, he said that the he was grateful that the city doesn’t use fluoride because he doesn’t want his staff getting sick from putting fluoride in the water. He went on to tell me that fluoride is one of the worst poisons in the world and that putting fluoride into the water represented a very dangerous risk to his staff.

      I have read a research report on a study done in Canada. The study involved following following 100,000 children who drank water with fluoride and 100,000 children who drank water without fluoride over their lifetimes from when they were 6 years old to 18 years old. The study found that the children who drank water without fluoride on average had 1/2 cavity more than the children who drank water with fluoride over the 13 year span. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I think it is insane that 2/3 or more of our society is expsosed daily for their entire lives to save half a cavity.

      I would get my kids to exercise proper dental hygene and forget the fluoride.

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