The negative impact of fluoride and how to avoid it
In the 1940s, community water fluoridation began in the United States, the idea being that adding a small amount of fluoride to drinking water would help reduce tooth decay in children. And so this practice continues still today.
While fluoride is a naturally occurring substance that is present to some degree in all water, exposure to high levels of this substance can contribute to a multitude of human health risks. But adding more fluoride to municipal water supplies means that we face much greater exposure to it than just through our drinking water.
Fluoride, and any other substance for that matter, in our drinking water also trickles down (pardon the pun) to other beverages made with water and to our food. Combine that with the fluoride added to many dental products on the market today (if some is good, more must be better), and the fluoride we’re exposed to from factory waste and pollution, and it’s not hard to see how easy it can be to to arrive at toxic levels of fluoride in the body.
Human health and environmental risks
One of the first signs of fluoride toxicity in the body is dental fluorosis. Exposure to too much fluoride in the first 8 years of life can cause irreversible damage to tooth enamel and create an uneven discoloration pattern of white or brown spots on the teeth.
While the visible effects of dental fluorosis can be lessened through cosmetic treatment, damage to tooth enamel is permanent.
Dental fluorosis may be one of the only visible symptom of fluoride toxicity, but the teeth are not the only part of the body affected. Excess fluoride exposure has been linked to other conditions, such as cardiac failure, diabetes, early puberty in girls, harm to the fetal brain, lower IQ, lower fertility rates, and thyroid dysfunction, among others.
And although extremely rare, cases of poisoning and even death have been linked to fluoride toxicity.
But humans are not the only ones affected by excessive fluoride levels. Synthetic fluoride produced for water fluoridation, dental products, and other uses, runs off into rivers, lakes, and streams through industrial wastewater, which in turn can contaminate the soil, affecting plants and the animals that eat them.
Plants absorbing excess fluoride have shown a decrease in growth, which can have farther-reaching effects on crop yield. Additionally, animals, both wild and domesticated, are negatively impacted by fluoride pollution, showing signs of dental fluorosis, decrease in appetite, reproductive effects, and lameness, to name a few.
Fluoride in dentistry
Healthy tooth enamel is your child’s best line of defense against cavities and tooth decay. Keeping the enamel in tact is essential to proper dental health. Throughout the course of every day, minerals are depleted from the teeth when the enamel comes in contact with acid and sugar. Unless those minerals are replenished, the enamel is weakened and tooth decay will occur.
We find added fluoride in most of the dental products we use everyday – toothpaste, mouthwash, floss – to replenish minerals in the teeth and help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride application in dentistry has become common practice – and a very profitable one at that.
Dentists can earn anywhere from $25,000-$100,000 annually simply by applying fluoride gel during routine dental cleanings. The income generated by fluoride application comes from insurance reimbursement for the treatment and is typically zero out of pocket for parents.
At One Loose Tooth, we advocate for a natural, more holistic approach to dental care.
Every time we eat, we have the opportunity to replenish the minerals lost by everyday contact with substances that can erode tooth enamel. Choosing fewer processed foods – typically high in sugar – and limiting acidic foods, can go a long way in reducing the demineralization of your child’s teeth. And choosing instead whole foods – especially meat and vegetables – helps to replenish minerals in the body.
Combine proper nutrition with brushing and flossing regularly, and the need for fluoride as a means of cavity prevention no longer makes sense.
What can I do to avoid fluoride?
It may seem like fluoride is everywhere and unavoidable, and while you may not be able to eliminate all fluoride exposure, there are several steps you can take to drastically reduce the amount of fluoride you come in contact with.
Know your sources: The first and most important step to take in reducing your fluoride exposure is to know in what ways you come in contact with it. This goes far beyond just your tap water. You can view a list of common sources here.
Healthy lifestyle: The fluoridation of drinking water was intended as a means to reduce cavities. But there are other ways to accomplish this that do not have the same harmful effects of exposure to excess fluoride. Choosing a healthy diet, being more active in proper dental hygiene, and avoiding fluoridated water or beverages made with it, are an important next step in reducing the amount of fluoride you come in contact with. Two simple ways to do this are to eat more fresh foods and less processed foods, and to use a water filter that will remove fluoride from your drinking water. Not all filters will remove fluoride, so it’s important to choose the right kind. For more information on choosing a water filter, click here.
Choose a holistic dentist: Avoiding fluoride is just one part of the equation when it comes to dental health. Finding a holistic dentist that will also educate on proper nutrition and other healthy practices that can prevent tooth decay in the first place will set you and your family up to enjoy a healthy mouth for life.
2 thoughts on “The flip side of fluoride”
Awesome website Alex. You make me proud. I’d bring my young ones to you, if I had any. You now have to change “son” to “sons” in your bio. Thanks for mentioning me in your bio. Your video was excellent. Toastmasters worked. I wish I could forward your website to grandpa. He’d be proud too. Cheers.
Hello! We are loving the information your office posts and are very interested in choosing One Loose Tooth as our Family Dentist office! Right now we have been using Hello Toothpaste but would love to know some other good fluoride free kid safe toothpastes that leave your teeth feeling clean and breath fresh.
We have tried Toms and Coral and have not been very pleased. Hello has been nice but interested in trying others that are recommended ❤️
Thank you all!