The Scoop on Fluoride

Have you ever heard of Fluoridigate? If so, you are one step ahead of me!

“FLUORIDEGATE is a new documentary that reveals the tragedy of how government, industry and trade associations protect and promote a policy known to cause harm to our country and especially to small children who suffer more than any other segment of the population. While their motivation remains uncertain, the outcome is crystal clear: it [fluoride] is destroying our nation!”

Now, those are not my words, but the words of the people behind this documentary. I am not one for sensationalized messaging or shock therapy. I like to take in all of the food and nutrition information (some true and some not so true) and make sense of it for you (and for me). So this is what I gleaned from this somewhat overbearing film: Have you ever thought about why public water is fluoridated? Or why companies like Poland Spring sell fluoridated water in cute bottles. Does your toothpaste contain fluoride or not? And to what extent is fluoride necessary in overall health and wellness?

Perhaps I can shine a little light….

What is Fluoride

Fluorine containing compounds are called fluorides. Oddly enough, fluorine is a highly toxic gas but at the same time very small amounts are necessary for the health of most organisms. That being said, the way you get the fluorine needed is through fluoride that is found in dental products like toothpaste and fluoride treatments as well as drinking water (where the fluoride is often from industrial by-products). Other not so commonly considered sources of fluoride are: processed beverages and foods (that use fluoridated water), pesticide residues typically found in grape products, dried fruit, dried beans, cocoa powder and walnuts; tea drinks (tea leaves absorb fluoride from soil, particluarly old tea leaves); pharmceuticals such as the commonly used anti-biotic cipro; teflon pans and the environment (especially in and around heavy industry).

Why is Fluoride Used

The use of fluoride is best understood with a little history lesson.  In a nutshell, in the early 1900’s researchers were trying to understand the cause of “mottled tooth enamel” called the Colorado Brown Stain (which was later called fluorosis). By 1933, the focus shifted to the relationship among fluoride concentrations, fluorosis and tooth decay. The conclusion—there was a widespread fluoride deficiency thus fluoridation of water became a public health policy of the US Public Health Service in 1951 and by 1960 the majority of the US was adding fluoride to the water supply.
While fluoridation continues to be dental science’s main weapon against tooth decay, there is tremendous controversy about its prevalence in drinking water (and more).

Do we Really Need Fluoride

What is now known about fluoride (in basic terms):

  • It is effective in preventing tooth decay when used TOPICALLY (as in toothpastes and mouthwashes)
  • It does not need to be swallowed for effectiveness (as in drinking water)
  • It’s common overconsumption in infancy and early childhood can have adverse side effects including dental fluorisis
  • If overconsumed, negative health effects can occur
  • It is added to drinking water as a “preventative medicine” to treat the people, not the water
  • The Environmental Protection Agency sets the allowable level at 4mg/liter of water (beyond that it is considered toxic) and the Department of Health and Human Services proposes an optimal level of .7mg/liter to promote “health benefits”.
  • Fluoridating water is a community decision and essentially unregulated, so check with your local water authority to gain some insight (if you have a well, get the water tested yearly—fluroide levels tend to be higher due to run off from environmental pollutants)

What is understood is that small amounts of fluoride are necessary for health, however, excess is a real concern—something all too common in American culture. So best to curb fluoride consumption and thanks to, here are some actionables to consider:

  • Stop drinking fluoridated water (get a filter for your home and learn more about your bottled water—much of it is simple fluoridated tap water)
  • Don’t swallow the toothpaste
  • Talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments (they may not be as necessary as you once thought if you are getting fluoride from other sources)
  • Eat more fresh food versus processed food
  • Be conscious of intake of bottled and instant tea beverages
  • Avoid non-stick pans
  • Be aware of fluoridated pharmaceuticals

Let’s keep this conversation going. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions. I would love to hear from you!

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