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Focus on Fluoride – Too Much of a Good Thing?

teeth.jpgParents, always on the look out for healthy products for their infants, may want to think twice before buying those that have added supplements. It all sounds good when we see products advertised to boost baby brain power, provide needed minerals and protect baby’s growing body…but sometimes it’s not.

Fluoride is a case in point.

Cavities used to be a fact of life for children growing up in the U.S. However, with the advent of fluoridated water in many municipalities, this is no longer true (in fact, it caused a bit of a crisis in the dental community as pediodontists saw their income declining).

Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral in all waters sources, oceans, lakes, and streams, was stripped out of water treated by municipalities for years. In the last few decades, driven by new research and supported by the American Dental Association, fluoride has been added back into the water supply, resulting, it is claimed, in the drastic reduction of childhood caries that we see today. However, now fluoride is also present in toothpaste, salt, 100% juice drinks, sodas, and even chicken and fish. And, increasingly manufacturers are adding fluoride to products marketed to children and advertising them as “good for growing teeth”. This may in fact cause more harm than good.

While fluoride has its place – it is a needed mineral – it turns out the major benefit (to teeth) is from topical use, not ingested. Too much fluoride can cause apparent increase in dental fluorosis, an unsightly and permanent discoloration of teeth. Fluorosis is caused by overexposure to fluoride at a time when teeth are just forming, often leaving them stained brown with white spots. And tooth problems aren’t the only health connections to fluoride – it has been also linked to cancer, low IQs, genetic disorders and muscle degeneration.

The EPA limits the amount of fluoride in drinking water to 4 parts per million (ppm) — but that’s four times what the American Dental Association claims is needed to fight cavities (0.7-1.2 ppm). As a result, some regions far exceed the existing EPA standard.

In those areas, as many as 10 percent of children younger than age 8 are afflicted with severe cases of dental fluorosis. Infants and young children are especially fragile, for the same reason the mercury contained in vaccines harms them: Low body weight.

So while ensuring that growing children get optimal amounts of needed vitamins and minerals seems the right thing to do, often purchasing products that provide supplemental amounts may do more harm than good. Natural, unprocessed fresh foods and vegetables may be all you need.


  1. We have fresh mountain spring water, and both the ped. dentists at UCSF and our local dentist said that systemic fluoride is no longer recommended. Here’s a post I wrote about in April on what we had learned:
    Also, Dr. Bob Sears is concerned about aluminum in vaccines. There is an article about it in the latest issue of Mothering.

  2. Douglas Yates says:

    It is a major error to say that fluoride is needed mineral. It is not. Read the January issue of Scientific American for the latest review of science on fluoride. For even more data on this outmoded practice see: fluoridealert.org.

  3. Jean MacBride says:

    Three members of the prestigious National Research Council (NRC) review of fluoride are three of 1,401 other professionals who have signed the ‘Professionals Statement Calling For an end to Fluoridation’ as of 3 Febuary 2008. (Website – Fluoride Action Network)
    The list of signers continues to grow everyday.

  4. Fluoridation has not reduced any dentists’ income. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that many dentists make three times more than physicians while working fewer days and fewer hours doing less critical work.

    At the same time tooth decay is increasing and UNtreated tooth decay is at crisis levels with several children dying from untreated tooth decay. 80% of dentists refuse Medicaid patient s and 108 million Americans don’t have dental insurance.

    Fluoride is neither a nutrient nor required for healthy teeth. After 60 years of water fluoridation, dental fluorosis, or fluoride overdoseage is occurring too often.

    However, these fluoride discolored teeth have provided a new lucrative market for cosmetic dentists

    Take Action to End Fluoridation

  5. Douglas and Jean,

    Thanks for your posts- I have been following this topic at http://www.fluoridealert.org – it’s a n interesting debate right now. I’m not sure I would agree that some (preferably)natural fluoride is not necessary. The Merck manual does state that it helps build healthy bones and teeth – see:


  6. Jean MacBride says:

    MC Milker
    They dont put natural fluoride in the water supplies, and children end up eating, soaking and drinking uncontrolled amounts of chemicals that are not nutrients or minerals. Naturally fluoride in water is called calcium fluoride.
    What chemicals are artificially added to water? Is it fluosilicic acid? Is it sodium fluoride? Is it Sodium Silicofluoride or Hydrofluorosilicic Acid? What are the trace contaminants that come with industrial grade chemicals? I know arsenic, mercury, are just a few. What does the Material Safety Data Sheets Say about these chemicals?
    What effect is ingesting these medications having on the body, the brain over a lifetime to us and to more vulnerable members of our society? Is this still being researched? From what I have read, it sure is not worth the risks and we are not lab rats.


  1. […] healthy labeling to promote their products, there is bound to be some that step over the line. As I wrote about last week , parents are increasing aware of the role that fluoride plays in healthy […]

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