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When you go to the dentist’s office for a cleaning, they’ll probably ask if you want a fluoride treatment. Should you accept? After all, fluoride has excellent clinical benefits for the teeth when applied topically. However, it’s important to keep in mind that what goes on teeth doesn’t go through the body without affecting other systems. The body is like a Swiss watch, where one gear affects all the others. Food, nutrients, and toxins, too, affect multiple systems as they move through the body. As with most things, the dose makes the poison. With fluoride, it doesn’t take much before it leads to toxicity.

What is Fluoride, and What is it Used For?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring trace mineral in soil, water, and many foods. It’s the ion form of the chemical element fluorine, as seen on the periodic table. [1] Fluorides are the element fluorine (F) combined with a metal, like calcium (Ca), sodium (Na), or silicon (Si).

The use of fluoride for dentistry goes back to the early 1900s when scientists noticed populations drinking water naturally high in fluoride had fewer dental caries (cavities). In 1901, a dentist named Dr. Frederick McKay began investigating “Colorado Brown Stain,” a condition affecting the teeth of residents in Colorado Springs. He discovered that fluoride was the cause of both the staining and the resistance to tooth decay. [2]

In the 1930s and 1940s, scientific studies further established the connection between fluoride and dental health. Researchers found more evidence that communities with naturally occurring fluoride in their water had fewer incidences of tooth decay. This led to the hypothesis that fluoride added to water supplies could be the answer to the prevention of dental cavities. [3]

In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first city to add fluoride to its water supply in a controlled experiment to test the effects on dental health. Subsequent studies confirmed significant reductions in tooth decay among residents. [4]

Following the Grand Rapids experiment, community water fluoridation became more widespread across the United States and other countries.  By the 1950s and 1960s, fluoridation of public water supplies became a common practice endorsed by health authorities and dental professionals worldwide. Water fluoridation was declared one of the greatest successes in public health in the 20th century. [5]

From there, fluoride was quickly incorporated into toothpaste, mouthwash, and other oral health products. Following the United States’ adoption of water fluoridation, the World Health Organization (WHO) also began recommending it worldwide as an effective way to reduce oral health problems. But is adding chemical fluoride to the water supply really a good idea?

Natural Fluoride vs. Synthetic Fluoride

Naturally occurring fluoride is calcium fluoride. The form of fluoride typically added to public water supplies is fluorosilicic acid, also known as hexafluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6). Fluorosilicic acid is a liquid compound that’s a byproduct of phosphate fertilizer production.

Some communities may also use other fluoride compounds for water fluoridation, like sodium fluoride (NaF) or sodium fluorosilicate (Na2SiF6). However, fluorosilicic acid is one of the most used compounds for this purpose due to its availability, cost-effectiveness, and ease of use. [6][7]

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) currently recommends a fluoride concentration of 0.7 ppm (parts per million) for the prevention of dental caries. [8] The American Dental Association (ADA) continues to endorse water fluoridation along with regular fluoride treatments.

It’s important to remember that even natural fluoride is a trace element that should be limited in diet and environmental exposure. That’s the difference between macro minerals (like magnesium and potassium) and trace minerals (like fluoride, copper, and iodine). Even drinking water high in naturally occurring fluoride can lead to health problems [9]

Adding additional fluoride to our drinking water in the form of a chemical byproduct should make us stop and think.

How Much Fluoride is in Your Drinking Water?

Water fluoridation is common in major cities and small towns. You can find out whether your community has fluoridated water by selecting your state in this free database: State Fluoride Database from the Fluoride Action Network.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has a page that lists the amount of fluoride in the water by county: CDC – My Water’s Fluoride Home. In private water sources like wells, the amount can be higher than the city water, as they aren’t as frequently monitored.

Other Uses for Fluoride and Why We Should Question It

Fluoride as a Pesticide

Did you know sodium fluoride is also used for insecticides and rodenticides (rodent killers)? Fluoride compounds are used in insecticides and rodenticides for their ability to kill pests. Some common fluoride-based compounds used in these products include:

  1. Sodium Fluoride: Sodium fluoride (NaF) is particularly effective against insects such as cockroaches and ants, but it also works for rodents like rats and mice. [10]
  2. Sodium Fluoroacetate: Sodium fluoroacetate (commonly known as “1080”) is a highly toxic compound used to control populations of rats, mice, and other pests. It’s also used to control certain insect pests in agricultural settings. [11]
  3. Sodium Monofluoroacetate: Sodium monofluoroacetate (commonly abbreviated as “compound 1080”) is another highly toxic chemical that’s effective against rodents. Baits often use it to control rat and mouse populations. [12]

These fluoride-based compounds work by interfering with biochemical processes in insects’ and rodents’ bodies, leading to toxicity and, ultimately, death.

Fluoride as a Corrosive & Cleaning Agent

Fluoride in the form of ammonium bifluoride is used to create etchings on glass, polish aluminum, clean textiles, etc. [13] Hydrofluoric acid is used in commercial automotive cleaners, rust removers, water spot removers, welding processes, and more. [14] Clearly, fluoride is a highly caustic substance that breaks down more than it builds up.

Potential Dangers of Fluoride

Strong enamel isn’t the only effect of fluoride. Fluoride is extremely toxic to the body overall, and it’s not the first time science looked at specific clinical benefits without considering harmful side effects. Take aspirin, for instance. Many people take an aspirin a day to reduce their risk of a heart attack. Sadly, these people are also increasing their risk of bleeding, strokes, and stomach damage.

Again, the body is like a Swiss Watch. Just because something can have clinical benefits for one part of the body doesn’t mean that it’s okay for the rest of the body. Low levels of fluoride may protect tooth enamel when used very carefully topically. However, high levels of fluoride have been linked to several negative health effects.

1 – Dental Fluorosis

Excessive fluoride intake during the developmental stages of teeth (usually up to 8 years old) can lead to dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is a cosmetic condition that creates mottling or discoloration of the tooth enamel. When fluoride builds up in developing teeth, it can prevent tooth enamel from forming the way it should. This can lead to permanent tooth staining or pitting. Dental fluorosis can range from mild to severe, and its appearance can vary from barely noticeable white streaks or spots on the teeth to more severe staining, pitting, or discoloration. Severe cases can lead to enamel erosion and increase susceptibility to dental decay. [15]

2 – Skeletal Fluorosis

Prolonged exposure to high fluoride levels can also lead to skeletal fluorosis. Unlike dental fluorosis, which primarily affects the teeth, skeletal fluorosis affects the bones. It occurs when fluoride accumulates in the bones, leading to changes in bone structure and mineralization. Some of the signs and symptoms include bone pain, stiffness, and an increased risk of fractures.

Skeletal fluorosis is more common in regions with naturally high fluoride levels in drinking water, like India, China, and regions of Africa. [5][16]

3 – Neurotoxicity

Some studies have suggested fluoride could act as a neurotoxin, particularly at high levels of exposure. Research in this area is ongoing, but scientists are concerned about possible adverse effects on neurodevelopment, cognition, and behavior in young children.

Multiple studies have linked fluoride exposure to low IQ and have demonstrated that it can impact the cognitive development of children. [17][18][19] Studies done in the mid-2000s have been confirmed in 2023 and 2024, showing that fluoride is indeed toxic to developing brains. [20][21]

In fact, in February 2024, a landmark trial took place in San Francisco based on concerns about fluoride and low IQ in children. [22] The trial was a follow-up to a 2017 lawsuit filed by an organization called Food and Water Watch, who went up against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). [23]

The Fluoride Action Network (FAN), Moms Against Fluoridation, and others joined in on the lawsuit, asking the EPA to ban water fluoridation in the United States due to its neurotoxic effects on children. The final judgment on whether water fluoridation will continue is currently yet to be determined.

4 – Hypothyroidism (Low Thyroid)

Fluoride has been linked to thyroid problems as well. A 2015 study found that hypothyroidism was almost twice as likely in areas with fluoridated drinking water compared to those without fluoridation. [24] A study done in 2023 found that fluoride in drinking water increased the risk of hypothyroidism in pregnant women. Hypothyroidism in pregnant women was associated with lower IQ scores in their babies. [25]

The thyroid gland requires iodine to produce thyroid hormones. Because it’s a halogen like iodine, fluorine is structurally similar to iodine and may take up iodine’s receptor sites. So, high levels of fluoride could interfere with iodine uptake by the thyroid gland, leading to decreased thyroid hormone production.

5 – Allergic Reactions

In rare cases, individuals may experience allergic reactions or hypersensitivity to fluoride-containing dental products, such as toothpaste or mouthwash. Symptoms may include skin rash, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing. Early exposure to fluoride (in the womb or infancy) may also increase allergic conditions like eczema. [26]

6 – Cancer

Fluoride has been linked to certain cancers, including uterine, bladder, and bone cancer (osteosarcoma). The biological mechanisms by which fluoride could potentially contribute to cancer development are not well understood. Some researchers have proposed that fluoride may promote cancer through mechanisms such as DNA damage, alterations in cell growth regulation, or disruption of the immune system. [27]

Ever wonder why it says “call poison control if swallowed” on the side of your tube of toothpaste? It’s because ingesting fluoride can make you sick, poison you, or, in high enough amounts, potentially kill you. Now, you’d have to swallow a lot of toothpaste for that to happen, but what about over the course of 5-10 years?

The thing about fluoride in our water supply is that it’s added based on how much water the average person drinks. What if you drink more than average? What about all the other ways you are exposed to fluoride?

Sources of Fluoride

Where would your fluoride exposure come from besides water if you don’t get fluoride treatments or take fluoride supplements?

  • Environmental Pollution: Fluoride may be present in industrial emissions, air pollution, and certain environmental sources such as soil and groundwater. Exposure to fluoride from these sources can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or dermal contact, although the levels are typically lower compared to intentional sources like drinking water or dental products.
  • Toothpaste or mouthwash – Fluoride is a common ingredient in home-use dental products like fluoride mouthwashes, rinses, and toothpaste.
  • Fluoride supplements – In some cases, fluoride supplements may be prescribed by healthcare providers, particularly for individuals at high risk of tooth decay who do not have access to fluoridated water or adequate fluoride exposure through other sources. Some people actually take fluoride supplements to increase fluoride concentrations in their bodies!
  • Fluoride-based Drugs – Ever heard of fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro or Levaquin? Notice that “Fluoro” part at the beginning? Yeah, that’s another way you’re being exposed to Fluoride. It’s not the only class of drugs with fluoride. See more below.
  • Certain foods – Tea leaves, especially aged tea leaves, tend to have higher levels of fluoride. Raisins, oatmeal, and russet potatoes may also have higher natural fluoride levels.

Too much fluoride, no matter the source, can damage our mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles in our cells. This can lead to any number of health conditions.

How to Reduce Your Fluoride Exposure

Fluoride is slowly impacting us through long-term exposure. It’s not just the water – it’s the accumulation of fluoride from many sources.

1 – Reconsider Fluoride in Toothpaste and Mouthwash

Instead, go for natural, fluoride-free toothpaste or mouth rinses that can help re-mineralize your teeth without adding to your toxic load. Good options should include ingredients like hydroxyapatite, xylitol, neem, essential oils, and herbal extracts. These compounds can help fight cavity-causing bacteria while helping the tooth enamel remineralize naturally.

2 – Find a Dentist Who Supports Your Fluoride Choice

Find a natural dentist and make sure to pass on the fluoride treatments. You can find a biological dentist using the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM) database here: Directory of Biological Dentists, Doctors & Allied Professionals. Search the Holistic Dental Association database here: Find a Holistic Dentist.

3 – Be Aware of Fluoride-Based Medications (And Know The Risks)

Many common pharmaceutical medications include fluoride in their ingredients. Here are some common drugs that have fluoride: [28]

  • Statin Drugs! (Lipitor and Atorvaliq): Used for lowering cholesterol
  • Fluconazole (Diflucan): Anti-fungal medication
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex): An NSAID used for reducing pain and inflammation.
  • Fluticasone (Flonase): A corticosteroid used for sinus infections.
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac): An SSRI anti-depressant.

How many of these medications have you been on at one time or another? While certain medications may be necessary from your “fireman” doctor for the short term, they’re rarely a long-term solution. Address the factors behind your chronic inflammation, infections, and mood disorders by comprehensive testing.

4 – Get a Water Purifier

At The Wellness Way Corporate office, we use a reverse-osmosis (RO) water filter. Reverse osmosis is a highly effective water purification process that removes a wide range of contaminants, including heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, bacteria, viruses, and other impurities. RO systems typically have multiple filtration stages that ensure thorough purification, resulting in water that’s free from many common pollutants.

By removing impurities and contaminants, reverse osmosis water often has a cleaner, fresher taste compared to tap water or water from other sources. The elimination of chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals can also eliminate unpleasant odors and improve the overall palatability of the water.

However, it’s important to note that reverse osmosis water tends to remove beneficial minerals along with contaminants, potentially leading to lower mineral content compared to other types of water. For that reason, some people choose to remineralize their RO water by adding mineral drops to the water. Others may simply focus on eating mineral-rich foods or taking mineral supplements to help them maintain a balanced mineral intake.

5 – Find A Spring!

If you want to get free or nearly free naturally structured drinking water, find a spring! Spring water is sourced from underground aquifers and protected natural springs, and they’re often located in remote and pristine environments. As a result, it is less likely to be contaminated with fluoride and other additives or pollutants compared to tap water. Many people prefer natural spring water for its purity and flavor. Find A Spring here!

The Wellness Way Can Help

Fluoride isn’t the only toxin out there that could negatively affect your health. Toxins are one of the three types of stressors that contribute to dis-ease in the body (the other two are traumas and thoughts). If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness or you’re simply unwell and undiagnosed, make an appointment to get tested. Find out which traumas, toxins, and thoughts are reducing your ability to heal. Reach out to one of our Wellness Way clinics today!

References:

  1. Fluoride – Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
  2. Solving the mystery of the Colorado Brown Stain – PubMed (nih.gov)
  3. Historical and bibliometric notes on the use of fluoride in caries prevention – PubMed (nih.gov)
  4. Over 75 Years of Community Water Fluoridation | CDC
  5. The Fluoride Debate: The Pros and Cons of Fluoridation – PMC (nih.gov)
  6. Water Fluoridation Additives | Engineering | Community Water Fluoridation | Division of Oral Health | CDC
  7. Hexafluorosilicic Acid (FSA): from Hazardous Waste to Precious Resource in Obtaining High Value-Added Mesostructured Silica | ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
  8. Federal Register :: Public Health Service Recommendation for Fluoride Concentration in Drinking Water for Prevention of Dental Caries
  9. 50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation – Fluoride Action Network (fluoridealert.org)
  10. Sodium Fluoride | NaF | CID 5235 – PubChem (nih.gov)
  11. Sodium fluoroacetate poisoning – PubMed (nih.gov)
  12. Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) risk assessment and risk communication – PubMed (nih.gov)
  13. Supply Ammonium Bifluoride 98%min for etching and frosting of glass ABF CAS NO. 1341-49-7 Wholesale Factory – Foshan Nanhai Shuangfu Chemical Co., Ltd (df-chemicals.com)
  14. Hydrogen Fluoride/Hydrofluoric Acid: Systemic Agent | NIOSH | CDC
  15. Fluorosis | Community Water Fluoridation FAQs | Community Water Fluoridation | Division of Oral Health | CDC
  16. Skeletal fluorosis: don’t miss the diagnosis! – PubMed (nih.gov)
  17. Impact of fluoride on neurological development in children | News | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  18. Prenatal Fluoride Exposure and Cognitive Outcomes in Children at 4 and 6-12 Years of Age in Mexico – PubMed (nih.gov)
  19. Association of lifetime exposure to fluoride and cognitive functions in Chinese children: a pilot study – PubMed (nih.gov)
  20. Urinary fluoride levels and metal co-exposures among pregnant women in Los Angeles, California – PubMed (nih.gov)
  21. Dose dependence of prenatal fluoride exposure associations with cognitive performance at school age in three prospective studies – PubMed (nih.gov)
  22. Fluoride On Trial: Federal Trial on the Neurotoxicity of Fluoridation Wraps Up – Fluoride Action Network (fluoridealert.org)
  23. complaint.4-18-17.pdf (fluoridealert.org)
  24. Are fluoride levels in drinking water associated with hypothyroidism prevalence in England? A large observational study of GP practice data and fluoride levels in drinking water – PubMed (nih.gov)
  25. Fluoride exposure and hypothyroidism in a Canadian pregnancy cohort – PubMed (nih.gov)
  26. Associations of gestational and early-life exposure to toxic metals and fluoride with a diagnosis of food allergy or atopic eczema at 1 year of age – PubMed (nih.gov)
  27. Water Fluoridation: A Critical Review of the Physiological Effects of Ingested Fluoride as a Public Health Intervention – PMC (nih.gov)
  28. Prescription Drugs That Contain Fluoride – Fluoride Action Network (fluoridealert.org)

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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