When I was elementary school, we used to get fluoride in a paper cup to swirl around in our mouths a couple times a year. Fluoride was considered “nature’s cavity fighter” and it was one of the ways our school worked in the community to prevent cavities in children.
Chances are big you’re drinking fluoride. Fluoride is naturally found in most all water sources, rivers, lakes, wells and even the oceans. And for the past 70 years, fluoride has been added to public water supplies to bring fluoride levels up to the amount necessary to help prevent tooth decay.
However, new studies are being done to discover whether too much fluoridation is good for you or not. Truthfully, the amount of fluoride a person consumes is dependent on how much fluoridated water they consume, so they may be consuming a little or they may actually be consuming quite a lot. And since the dose can’t be controlled, it also means that fluoride is being consumed by everyone regardless of age, health or vulnerability.
Some of the studies surrounding Fluoride are whether they contribute to:
- Increased lead absorption
- Lowered thyroid function
- Disrupted immune system
- Hyperactivity and/or lethargy
- Inhibited formation of antibodies
And while the debate as to whether Fluoride is detrimental to you or not is still open, what is probably the biggest argument against the fluoridation of our water system is that our choice to ingest fluoride has been taken away from us with the treatment of our water systems. As a matter of fact, fluoride is the only chemical added to our water for the purpose of medical treatment. It seems, the government has decided to fluoridate our water without enough research into long-term effects.
Most developed countries, including Japan and 97% of the western European population, do not consume fluoridated water. Further, the role of fluoride in the decline of tooth decay is now in some doubt. The largest survey ever conducted in the US (over 39,000 children from 84 communities) by the National Institute of Dental Research showed little difference in tooth decay among children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities. These results cast serious doubt as to Fluoride’s ability to prevent tooth decay and to whether the fluoridation of our communal water is necessary or beneficial. And, where fluoridation has been discontinued in communities from Canada, the former East Germany, Cuba and Finland, dental decay has not increased but has generally continued to decrease.
In the January 2008 issue of Scientific American, Professor John Doull, the chairman of the important 2006 National Research Council review, Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Review of EPA’s Standards, is quoted as saying:
“What the committee found is that we’ve gone with the status quo regarding fluoride for many years—for too long really—and now we need to take a fresh look . . . In the scientific community people tend to think this is settled. I mean, when the U.S. surgeon general comes out and says this is one of the top 10 greatest achievements of the 20th century, that’s a hard hurdle to get over. But when we looked at the studies that have been done, we found that many of these questions are unsettled and we have much less information than we should, considering how long this [fluoridation] has been going on.”
Here are some tips for limiting Fluoride and protecting your teeth:
- Use a water filter: Clearly Filtered has a great filter to take up to 90% of Fluoride out of water.
- Natural Toothpaste: Try using a natural toothpaste rather than your familiar Colgate.
- Avoid Sugar: Sugar is promotes tooth decay, so limit your sweets to improve tooth health.
More needs to be done to adequately study the issue as to whether Fluoride in our water is safe and even necessary. It starts with educating ourselves and then advocating in our communities in order to bring awareness and inspire well-informed action.
Sara Zuboff is a yoga and meditation instructor at Hummingbird Pilates. She teaches Tuesdays at 8:30, 9:05 and 10:00 a.m. She also enjoys writing about being human in the world. You can catch another of her articles on Elephant Journal here.