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Fluoride: No Reason To Smile

By Robert Schecter

At the end of last year, with the hope of improving dental health, Southern California began to add fluoride to its water supplies—a procedure first adopted 68 years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Surprisingly, even though fluoride is now added to most public drinking water and found in the vast majority of toothpaste, few of us actually know what it is.

For promoters of the practice, that’s probably a good thing. Fluoride, as it turns out, is one of the most toxic substances known to man. According to former EPA scientist Dr. Robert Carton, “Fluoride is somewhat less toxic than arsenic and more toxic than lead.” Which is interesting since fluoridated water contains on average 1 mg/liter of fluoride—even though the EPA considers any water containing more than .015 mg/liter of either lead or arsenic to be in excess of its maximum contaminant level.

In its elemental form, fluoride is found in minerals in the earth’s crust, such as apatite, and cryolite. Apatite, used in the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers, is the primary source of the fluoride used in water fluoridation programs. The United States Department of Health and Human Services states: “In the manufacture of phosphate fertilizer …fluorides…are released as toxic pollutants.” That is unless these toxic pollutants are recovered and dumped into our children’ drinking water.

Additionally, fluoride is widely used as an insecticide. It kills bugs while at the same time giving them great teeth. Fluoride is in fact so toxic, your tube of toothpaste contains the warning, “If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”

Fluoride and fluoridation are responsible for a condition called dental fluorosis, which, in very mild cases, causes white and yellow blotches on our children’s developing teeth. The condition is permanent and can only be masked by expensive cosmetic surgery. Fluorosis is on the rise afflicting 20 to 75% of children living in fluoridated areas.

Dentists often blame swallowed toothpaste for the problem because it allows them to use the “fluoride is only a problem when used improperly” excuse. However, current levels of dietary fluoride are more than enough to cause the condition without any help from toothpaste.

These same dentists assure us the discoloration effecting our children’s teeth is “only cosmetic” (while at the same time marketing their whitening products and services by reminding us how important a beautiful smile is) and that the condition is mild or very mild—which is meaningless when one considers that moderate to severe cases of fluorosis. When waters containing naturally high levels of fluoride are consumed, victims are left with crumbling, dark brown remnants of teeth.

The problem has gotten so bad the ADA, by far fluoride’s biggest supporter, recently had to issue a warning about allowing babies to drink fluoridated tap water because of the fluorosis risk. Think about that. Due to the actions of the government and dental authorities it is unsafe for our babies to drink their own tap water.

But don’t we have to take a risk? After all were told, “Most dentists agree that adding fluoride has drastically reduced tooth decay.” Perhaps, if they were right. But the evidence supporting the efficacy of fluoride is exceedingly questionable and has been widely criticized within the mainstream scientific community.

Articles appearing in the journals Nature and Perspectives in Biology and Medicine have both agreed fluoride was not responsible for the large drop in tooth decay that began in the mid part of the 20th century, which coincided with the post-World War II increase in teeth brushing.

Furthermore, a 1999 investigation performed at the behest of the Ontario Ministry of Health reported that, at that time, the effects of fluoridation were often both statistically and clinically insignificant and, when examining the four major studies initiated the 1940s and whose results led to widespread fluoridation, found them to have been “crude and subject to a number of methodological flaws.” So numerous were these flaws that Sutton in 1959 was able to write an entire book about them.

Finally in 2000, the British Medical Journal published a study by McDonagh entitled “Systematic Review of Water Fluoridation,” which examined 214 studies involving fluoridation and found none of them to have been of good quality.

Another important fact to be aware of is that today, when studies measure fluoride efficacy, they generally employ a measure called the DMFS index, which tabulates decayed, missing and filled tooth surfaces (each of us, if we have all our teeth, has 128 surfaces). Using the DMFS index has the effect of creating percentage variations that give the illusion of substantial benefits where none exist. For example, a widely cited National Institute of Dental Research study released in 1990 attributed an 18–25% carries reduction—depending on how the data was interpreted—to fluoridation. Yet when one considers the variation in DMFS, 2.79 vs. 3.39, from which those numbers were derived, the benefit is less than 1/2 of one tooth surface per child. And even that data is suspect because the aforementioned study, like almost all fluoride studies, did not take into account the wellknown fact that fluoride consumption, even in “optimal” amounts, can delay tooth eruption long enough to confound fluoridation studies (a delayed eruption lessens the time a tooth is vulnerable to decay and, since studies compare children of the same age, fluoridated children may actually have “younger” teeth than their unfluoridated peers, creating an invalid statistical comparison.)