There are two sides to every story, and the addition of fluoride to municipal water supplies is no exception.
You’ve heard that most water treatment centers put fluoride in our tap water. You may have even had fluoride treatments at your dentist’s office. Because of this, many people assume that fluoride is good for you.
On the flip side, some argue that the fluoride added to our drinking water is unnecessary (at best) and hazardous to our health (at worst).
What do you think? Is adding fluoride to our water supply helpful or harmful? Does it really matter?
In this post, we’ll examine both sides of the fluoride debate so you can make an informed decision.
What Is Fluoride and What Does It Do?
Before we delve into the debate, let’s first establish the facts.
FACT: Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that’s found in the Earth’s crust and nearly all water supplies.
FACT: Fluoride is a reduced form of fluorine, both of which are listed on the Periodic Table of Elements.
FACT: Researchers have found that people who drink fluoridated water have up to 66% fewer cavities than those who drink non-fluoridated water.
All of these facts make fluoride sound pretty great, right? In many ways, it is.
Because our teeth lose minerals every day (through a process called demineralization), we need ways to remineralize them. Fluoride is one effective way to do so.
This is why it’s been used in water supplies and dental offices since the 1930’s. But if fluoride is so commonly used and accepted, then why the ongoing debate?
Well, despite studies that show a correlation between dental health and use of fluoride, not everyone agrees that it belongs in our water supply.
Let’s give each side a chance to state their arguments.
Fluoride in Our Water Supply
Team PRO-fluoride says:
“Fluoridation to water is regarded as a simple measure to improve public health. It’s thought that adding fluoride helps strengthen the enamel of teeth, preventing decay, cavities and tooth loss.” – Steve Coffel, The Great Fluoride Light
“Water fluoridation saved $39 billion in dental care costs over the course of 10 years. The average lifetime cost per person to fluoridate the water supply is less than the cost of a single dental filling.” – Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Team ANTI-fluoride says:
“Fluoride may actually weaken the bones. Fluoride may affect dietary allergies and protein digestion and intolerance…it may also damage joints, connective tissue, the brain, and the testicles.” – Canadian Journal of Public Health
“This extremely toxic, hazardous chemical is illegal to dump and would cost companies a hefty price tag to properly dispose of it. Instead, the waste is sold to cities and towns where they are then legally dumped into water supplies.” – Joe Martino, Collective Evolution
Is Fluoride Safe? Are There Any Possible Risks?
Team PRO-fluoride says:
“Fluoride is safe and effective when used as directed but can be hazardous at high doses. Keep in mind, however, that it’s very difficult to reach hazardous levels given the low levels of fluoride in home-based fluoride-containing products.” – WebMD
“Fluoride has been recognized as an important nutrient for healthy teeth. Fluoridation is the most cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay. It is a public health measure, a modest community-wide investment that benefits everyone.” – Campaign for Dental Health, American Association of Pediatrics
“It's not just the CDC that upholds the merits of fluoride. More than 125 organizations around the world also recognize its safety and value. These organizations include the ADA, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization.” – Jennifer Mitchell, Colgate.com
“Most health issues that opponents claim to be linked to fluoride are from sources of water with much higher fluoridation levels than what is found in our water systems. Many anti-fluoride studies were not designed properly and gathered unreliable data. Studies that indicated a link between fluoride and lower IQs were not conducted properly and did not take all other factors into account.” – Mike Hamby, DDS
Team ANTI-fluoride says:
“One of the main arguments against fluoride in water is that people believe it is unethical for the government to force fluoride on people without giving them a choice. When fluoridation began, fluoride was not as readily available in toothpaste like it is now.” – Mike Hamby, DDS
“Fluoride is a waste product of the aluminum and fertilizer industries and, not surprisingly; a multi-million-dollar business. The chemicals used to fluoridate the water actually are not pharmaceutical grade as one might expect, but are a hazardous waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry.” – William Glaros, DDS
“Fluoride is so toxic and dangerous that it has the ability to eat through metal and concrete. 24 studies have shown a link between fluoride exposure and the lowering of IQ. Research has found that fluoride affects normal endocrine function, causes kidney disease, bone weakness, dental fluorosis, cancer, calcification of the pineal gland, arthritis, immune deficiencies, skeletal fluorosis and much more.” – Joe Martino, Collective Evolution
The Final Word on Fluoride
The truth, as it often does, lies somewhere in between these two extreme viewpoints. And as you may have gathered from the varied opinions, there is nothing wrong with fluoride itself, and when used properly it can save teeth. The problem has to do with not having a choice as to whether or not our drinking water is supplemented with this mineral, and having no control over the form of fluoride being used.
When man was able to run around drinking water from streams and rivers that naturally accumulated minerals, he didn't have to worry about whether or not his teeth were being adequately fortified with the appropriate minerals. Today, however, there are practically no safe sources of water that can be drunk without treatment.
When municipalities first began fluoridating water back in the 1940’s, they were using sodium fluoride. A high-quality mineral supplement designed to strengthen teeth. Today, however, the fluoride found in most water supplies is not sodium fluoride, but fluorosilicic acid. A corrosive and toxic aluminum byproduct of the fertilizer industry. While technically still “fluoride” this is not the high-quality pharmaceutical grade additive but rather an inconvenient waste product that manufacturers are eager to find cheap ways to dispose of.
Ultimately it is up to each individual to take control of, and responsibility for, what he or she puts into his or her own body. It may be wise to contact your local water treatment center and inquire as to just what type of fluoride is being added to your water supply, where it comes from and how much is added. There are many high-quality fluoride filters available on the market that you can buy and use if you find that your local water supply is being contaminated with inferior grade waste product. If you do decide to remove the fluoride from your water supply, it is important to do so consciously and to be aware that you may need to find a high-quality fluoride or remineralizing toothpaste to get the minerals needed for optimum oral health.