Natasha is a registered dental hygienist and advocate for medical freedom and informed consent. You can find at @empoweredmamamovement. For more in depth information on fluoride research and updates on the ongoing fluoride lawsuit against the EPA, visit www.fluoridealert.org
The implementation of community water fluoridation is considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be one of the “top ten public achievements of the 20th century” (Pollick, 2014). Fluoride’s vital role in preventing tooth decay is praised and promoted in the dental profession and taught determinedly in dental and dental hygiene schools. Some may conclude that with both the government’s support and implementation of water fluoridation as well as the heavy emphasis that is placed on fluoridation by the dental community, it would seem absurd to question such a miracle substance. However, fluoride has been shown to not only fail to meet the claims of reducing caries and decay, but has also been linked to many major health concerns such as interfering with thyroid function, decreased fertility, lowered IQ, premature birth and low birth weight babies, and more.
The first city to be introduced to community water fluoridation was Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945 (Pollick, 2014). Since that time, water fluoridation has become a standard for cities throughout the United States, with over 64% of the U.S. participating in the program (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). Ethically, it is argued that community water fluoridation contributes greatly to the core value of justice and fairness, ensuring that all people have access to such a preventative measure.
water fluoridation is a breech of informed consent
But the question must be asked: is community water fluoridation truly ethical from a healthcare standpoint to begin with? Informed consent is a major legal and ethical concept that is required of healthcare providers. By definition informed consent “is the process by which the treating health care provider discloses appropriate information to a competent patient so that the patient may make a voluntary choice to accept or refuse treatment” (DeBord, 2014). By treating water with medication in the form of fluoride, the government is violating an individual’s right to consent to this mass medical treatment of water. Swedish pharmacologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology, Dr. Arvid Carlsson, stated: “In modern pharmacology it’s so clear that even if you have a fixed dose of a drug, the individuals respond very differently to one and the same dose. Now, in this case, you have it in the water and people are drinking different amounts of water. So you have huge variations in the consumption of this drug...it’s against all modern principles of pharmacology’’ (National Health Federation, 2010).
the oral-systemic link
The status of one’s overall health can be related to his or her oral health. Oftentimes dental professionals are the first to notice signs of vitamin deficiencies, illnesses, and diseases such as diabetes or AIDS which manifest themselves in the oral cavity. However, when asked about fluorosis and the significance of its presence, dental professionals answer that fluorosis is a cosmetic discoloration of teeth due to excessive fluoride. The CDC states that fluorosis is simply “a change in the appearance of the tooth enamel” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). If the oral health of an individual is truly a window to their overall health, as is often said in the dental community, then perhaps the presence of fluorosis is indicative of a greater problem than simply the discoloration of enamel. It is contradictory to think that the overconsumption of fluoride that is manifesting itself in the teeth is not having an affect on the remainder of the human biological system. In his journal article A Surfeit of Fluoride?, Dr. Geoffrey Smith posed the question: “Are we to regard dental fluorosis as nothing more than a cosmetic aberration- something akin to freckles? Or is it possible that dental fluorosis is not an isolated subclinical symptom, and that plasma fluoride levels which can damage developing tooth cells may also endanger other cells and their enzyme systems in the body?” (Smith, 1985). Smith also compared the presence of fluorosis to what is known as the Burton line, a bluish-black line visible on the gingiva when chronic lead poisoning is present. He suggests that just as the Burton line is a clear indicator of chronic lead poisoning, fluorosis is an indication that fluoride poisoning has occurred in the body (Smith, 1985).
evidence of the ability of water fluoridation to decrease decay is lacking
Despite many claims, evidence and analyses fail to present a correlation between fluoride consumption and decreased caries rates. According to the World Health Organization, the mean number of DMFT (Decayed Missing Filled Teeth) per person in Sweden and Denmark, neither of which fluoridate their water or salt, was 0.8 (Malmo University Oral Health Database, n.d.). Alternatively, the United States and Australia, both of which have a high percentage of community water fluoridation, have a higher DMFT number of 1.19 and 1.0, respectively (Malmo University Oral Health Database, n.d.). To account for potential health and social differences between these countries, these trends were also found to be true within the United States from data collected by the National Institute of Dental Research. This analysis found that of 39,207 children surveyed in the United States, there was no statistically significant difference between the decay rates of permanent teeth in fluoridated versus non-fluoridated communities (Yiamouyiannis, 1990). Despite the implementation of community water fluoridation in the large majority of the United States, dental caries remains the most prevalent chronic disease in the United States in both children and adults, with 92% of American adults having had caries in their permanent teeth (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 2014).
the harms of fluoride: decreased iq, thyroid issues, premature birth, and more
Of greater importance than the lack of correlation between fluoridated water and dental caries prevalence are the many harmful effects that fluoride may have on the human body. A 2005 study found that children in India who were exposed to 4.37 ppm fluoride levels exhibited low levels of free triiodothyronine (T3), a hormone that is essential for proper functioning of the thyroid. Researchers found that the fluoride competitively binds with iodine, thus interfering with the synthesis and obstruction of thyroid hormones T3 and T4 (Peckham & Awofeso, 2014). While fluoride levels of 4.37 ppm are well above what is recommended in U.S. community water, the concern is still valid as to the safety and non-consequential claims of those who advocate fluoride. Another study found that 54% of children who exhibited dental fluorosis also exhibited irregular thyroid hormone levels. Those who were exposed to fluoride but did not exhibit dental fluorosis still had “well defined hormonal derangements” when exposed to fluoridated water levels ranging from 0.14-0.73 ppm. (Susheela, Bhatnagar, Vig, & Mondal, 2005).
Surprisingly, the American Dental Association was aware of some of the potential problems that fluoride could present. In 1944, just one year prior to the introduction of community water fluoridation, the ADA denounced water fluoridation stating: “We do know the use of drinking water containing as little as 1.2 to 3.0 parts per million of fluorine will cause such developmental disturbances in bones as osteosclerosis, spondylosis, and osteopetrosis, as well as goiter, and we cannot afford to run the risk of producing such serious systemic disturbances in applying what is at present a doubtful procedure intended to prevent development of dental disfigurements among children” (Anthony, 1944). Anthony goes on to conclude that although fluoride may initially appear attractive to treat the mass prevalence of caries, the lack of knowledge of it’s effects creates a potential for harm which would far outweigh the potential for good (Anthony, 1944).
Perhaps one of the more well known and groundbreaking studies regarding the toxicity of fluoride is an analysis done by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Chinese Medical University which presented strong evidence that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development of children. Researchers found that data gathered from 27 published studies performed over the course of 22 years suggested that there was a correlation between children who were exposed to high fluoride levels and lowered IQ. This research “suggests that fluoride may be a developmental neurotoxicant that affects brain development at exposures much below those that cause toxicity in adults” (Choi, Sun, Zhang, & Grandjean, 2012). Additional research has demonstrated similar correlations. Over 200 animals and human studies have found evidence of fluoride negatively affecting intelligence, ability to learn and remember, neurobehavioral deficits such as impaired visual-spacial organization, and impaired fetal brain development (Fluoride Alert, 2017).
A.K. Susheela is a researcher at the forefront of fluoride toxicity research and has published over 80 articles on the topic. Susheela found that when fluoride was reduced in 2,500 anemic children and adolescents, 81% of the children in the study exhibited “corrected” anemia and normal red blood cell counts within six months (Susheela, Gupta, & Mondal, 2016). Susheela suggests that this correlation between ingested fluoride and anemia plays a major role in preterm births and low birth weight babies due to fluoride’s ability to decrease production of red blood cells. In addition to a decreased production of erythrocytes, her research has shown that fluoride causes premature death of red blood cells. In one of Susheela’s studies, 90 out of 205 pregnant women with anemia were told to avoid fluoridated water and other fluoride- containing products. At the end of the study, the sample group had considerably better body mass indexes, indicative of better absorption of nutrients. The majority of them also exhibited increased hemoglobin counts. Lastly, of the women who were told to avoid fluoride, 32% of the group delivered before 37 weeks, whereas 50% of the women in the control group delivered prior to 37 weeks. These findings are of particular interest due to the long term mental and physical effects that preterm birth may cause, as well as the abnormally high number of preterm births in the United States (MacArthur, 2013). Various studies have also found fluoride to contribute to decreased total fertility rates (Freni, 2009), sperm toxicity, and impaired fetal neurodevelopment (MacArthur, 2013).
a biological mechanism to protect against fluoride
It is unreasonable to think that the addition of fluoride, which has no known metabolic function in the body, is not an essential nutrient, and is not found in significant quantities in human breast milk (Stegeman & Davis, 2015) can be added to water with no consequence to the natural mechanisms of the human body. The human body through evolution and/or divine design was made to function properly, and has done so for millions of years. The addition of fluoride is not necessary, nor is there adequate research to support the infiltration of fluoride into the bodies of millions of people. Evidence of this can be seen in results that were found by coincidence at Yale University’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Microbiology and bioinformatic researchers were studying types of noncoding RNA called riboswitches which help control gene expression. During their research, a new riboswitch was discovered for which the researchers could not pinpoint it’s function. By accident, the team received a contaminated fluoride-spiked chemical sample which allowed them to determine that this particular riboswitch was associated with fluoride. It was concluded that this fluoride-sensitive riboswitch is one of the few riboswitches that is present in both bacteria and archaea. According to researchers, what this widespread occurrence suggests is that cells have developed “an ancient biological system... to deal with fluoride’s toxicity” (MacArthur, 2013).
national research council believes fluoride may need