For decades now it has been ingrained within the collective mindset that fluoride is a necessary component for healthy teeth. It therefore goes without surprise that for many of us a toothpaste, or water, without fluoride, is like some horrible disservice to our health. But as the famous question goes, what if everything you knew about something was wrong? What if there is a whole other story to fluoride that is only recently being told in its fullest sense? In this essay we will examine that story and why more people today are saying “no thank you” to the presence of fluoride in their toothpaste, and water.
Although the tides are changing, most people, as well as most health professionals are still greatly convinced that fluoride is an essential component of good, healthy oral hygiene. And although it may seem new, the fluoride debate has been going on for decades. Governments and health care professionals have been trying to battle out of whether to fluoridate or not fluoridate since the 1940′s when the practice began.
For many of those decades however, fancy advertising from toothpaste companies has made us immune to see fluoride as anything but beneficial. Initial toothpaste was often made without fluoride and citizens were making sure that their brand had fluoride in it - dentist’s orders.
Today however, the information making us choose otherwise is growing louder and stronger. One by one, many cities around the world are opting to stop fluoridating municipal water. One by one, informed citizens are choosing fluoride-free toothpastes. One by one, we are causing a ripple effect that is turning the tides on how we see toothpaste and its role in our health.
What Is Fluoride?
Chemically fluorine is the 9th element in the periodic table, and in the same family as chlorine, bromine and iodine.
This chemical family of elements is called the halogens. They are non-metallic and salt forming. Halogens are highly reactive, and as such can be harmful or lethal to biological organisms in sufficient quantities. Fluorine is one of the most reactive elements in existence, and is a corrosive and highly toxic gas. The toxicity of chlorine is also widely known, and controversial in itself as an additive to water.
Naturally, when elements bond their properties usually change drastically. Some go from harmless to harmful, and others vice-versa. Depending on what fluorine bonds with, the new compound will determine ultimately how it will act within a system.
Fluoride is formed when fluorine gains one extra negative charge, called an electron. In common toothpastes and some city water supplies, fluoride exists paired with sodium, as sodium fluoride.
What we do know today for sure, is that fluoride’s adverse effects depend on total fluoride dosage from all sources, and naturally vary from person to person. Thus, even if one cannot eliminate all the sources of the fluoride in their life, a conscious reduction can make all the difference where our health is concerned.
The Dangers of Fluoride
While a lot of people think that fluoride prevents tooth decay, most of us don’t realize that fluoride can actually cause a type of tooth decay called dental fluorosis – most commonly observed in children.
Harmful effects of fluoride have also been linked to osteoporosis, thyroid problems, endocrine problems and cancers, just to name a few. There are many studies that support these probable links available out there. We can dedicate several articles alone to how the presence of fluoride in our lives contributes to each of these.
When it comes to thyroid disruption, this seems to be a big topic linked to the presence of fluoride in our lives. Even if you know nothing about each, most of us do know that iodine has a powerful effect on our thyroid. Iodine is in the same chemical family as fluorine, so one can quickly align that it is not far fetched at all, that fluorine would also affect our thyroid gland in some way – be that in a positive or negative form.
What else we do know for sure is that babies and young children are at the greatest risk for various problems where their health is concerned from exposure to too much fluoride, both short-term and long-term. Many health professionals agree that children should not be given fluoridated water to drink.
For now I invite you to get a quick idea of the dangers in the following great video. In it Dr. Chris Napoli explains why most of Europe has banned fluoride, the different studies that show the links of fluoride with various negative health effects, and some tips for a life without fluoride.**
- Please note that I do not recommend Tom’s of Maine toothpaste as Dr. Napoli does above for several reasons. Their formulas can be found to contain SLS - a chemical we do not want in our shampoo, never mind our toothpaste, they also create fluoride toothpastes, their formulas also contain other undesirable ingredients, and finally they are owned by Colgate-Palmolive, a chemical company that is neither good for your health or that of our environment. It is best to support truly natural companies that strive to provide the best products for our health, and not just focus on profit, “green-wash”, or hide behind the “natural” label.
Medical and Government Thoughts on Fluoride
So if we know all these dangers, it begs the question – why are so many municipalities still fluoridating their water, and why are toothpastes with fluoride pushed on us so heavily?
Could it be that this is just another example of what happens when large corporations and the government or medical field become friends with benefits?
Does it all come down to a question of money behind closed doors?
If you live in the US or Canada, and cannot imagine life without fluoridated water, just know that many countries around the world refuse to add fluoride to their water. Continental Europe for example does not fluoridate their water and more and more cities each day are stopping this practice, as they see more harm in it than good.
The biggest scientific proof for not needing the fluoride in water is that tooth decay has dropped at the same rate in countries with, and without, water fluoridation. So we know today that there is something more to this equation.
The EPA in the US has expressed concerns about fluoride since the mid 80′s. Many more scientists, doctors and dentists alike are speaking out more and more against the use of fluoride, whether in water or toothpaste. Renowned dentists/doctors like the head of preventative dentistry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Hardy Limeback, has openly stated his stance against fluoridation, same as dentist – Dr. Osmunson, Dr. Mercola and natural health proponents like water expert Daniel Vitalis and health ranger Mike Adams.
What about the government? Well here in Canada, whether water is fluoridated and in what amount, depends on the city you live in. However, in the last 40 years the amount of fluoride put into water has been more than halved, and Health Canada continues to reduce the allowed amount of fluoride in municipal water.
In general, many people who are against fluoride are simply saying this – it is a violation of our rights, and the biggest enforced drug given to the masses without their say. People should have a say in whether they are exposed to this substance or not. It is one thing to pick it up in tiny quantities in nature, and quite another to have it injected into our lives on a daily basis and in questionable amounts.
I am going to share with you another short video – that in my opinion is a must see for everyone – whether you already know about fluoride dangers or not. In this short film, Dr. Bill Osmunson – a dentist with over 30 years of experience explains clearly and concisely why your health can be in serious danger because of fluoride.
For me personally, I switched over to an all natural toothpaste back in the spring of 2008. I avoided commercial toothpastes, mainly due to their inclusion of SLS, and then also learned about the dangers of fluoride a little later. The toothpaste I now use is from Green Beaver - a local Canadian company focused on natural products only, and I have tried 3 of their varieties, which are all fantastic. You can see more specific comments in my review of their Frosty Mint Toothpaste – my favorite variety from them.
I have been to the dentist several times since this change and have not been told that my teeth are any worse off - in fact better, if anything. Besides, we know enough today to know that proper tooth care stems from the way we brush, not the chemicals we put on our teeth. Also, the foods we eat have a huge impact on how good our oral health will be – perhaps another reason to re-think our consumption of refined sugars, coffee and processed food in general.
As for the water, my journey had me use Brita carbon filters when I still relied on municipal tap water, not that they were doing much. Eventually as part of a major life transition I was fortunate enough to move out of the cities and today enjoy pure water from a local spring, as well as our well, without any added fluoride or chlorine. When I travel within a reasonable distance and duration, I bring along my own water. If I have to rely on other water during my travels, I am sure to purchase the highest quality mineral water of the area I am in, or find a local spring in that area.
I will leave this topic for now, with the following helpful tips that you can implement to start reducing your personal exposure to fluoride today:
Consider investing in a high quality water filter for the entire home (not just kitchen faucet) that removes chlorine, fluoride and many other unnecessary and harmful particles.
Use the highest quality water – not bottled or unfiltered tap, if you have a baby or a child who is formula fed or given water to drink.
Look around for local springs and get your water from there, especially if it is not cost effective or possible for you to have a proper filtration system. A map of numerous springs in North America can be found here: findaspring.com
Read, research and expand your knowledge on this and any topic that deals with your health. Take accountability for your health always.
References & Further Reading
Fluoride in our water – from The Canadian Encyclopedia
Warning: Never swallow regular toothpaste. – from Dr. Mercola
Think fluoride is healthy? Find out the shocking truth. – from Dr. Mercola
The Dangers of Fluoride and Fluoridation – from Dr. Michael Schachter
Opposition to water fluoridation – from Wikipedia