As humans, we make public health decisions with good intentions. One of those decisions is to fluoridate public drinking water. For over 70 years, communities have been fluoridating their water to reduce tooth decay.1)https://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/faqs/community-water-fluoridation.html. 74% of Americans drink fluoridated water, yet this practice is often called into question by health advocates.2)http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/OralHealthInformation/ChildrensOralHealth/ToothDecayProcess.htm Does this neurotoxin really reduce cavities?
As we reported in the post HOW TO — USE DIET TO PREVENT KID’S CAVITIES, cavities are formed by bacteria in our mouths. This bacteria forms the acid that breaks down the minerals in the enamel of teeth.
WHAT CA– USES CAVITIES?
Bacteria causes tooth decay. It’s a disease process called caries. Dr. Lucas in More Chocolate, No Cavities explains:
- Bacteria live in the mouth and grow on teeth
- Mouth bacteria break down simple carbohydrates into lactic acid as part of digestion
- If enough lactic acid sits on a tooth for long enough, it dissolves part of the tooth and forms a hole in the tooth.
The saliva in our mouth can help rebuild the lost minerals in our enamel. Our mouths are in a constant flux of losing and rebuilding enamel.
Fluoride is added to toothpaste and municipal water to stop further loss of enamel. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR):
Fluoride is a mineral that can prevent tooth decay from progressing. It can even reverse, or stop, early tooth decay.
Fluoride works to protect teeth. It . . .
- prevents mineral loss in tooth enamel and replaces lost minerals
- reduces the ability of bacteria to make acid3)http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/OralHealthInformation/ChildrensOralHealth/ToothDecayProcess.htm
Fluoride is a Classified Developmental Neurotoxin like Arsenic, Lead, and Mercury
Preventing tooth decay is a worthy public health cause, but what are the consequences of systemic fluoride?
Published in the Lancet Neurology, one of the most prestigious medical journals, fluoride was identified as developmental neurotoxicant:
Neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency. Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence. In 2006, we did a systematic review and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants: lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants—manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers. 4)http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(13)70278-3/fulltext
Scientists are not sure why there is a growth in neurobehavioral disorders currently affecting 10-15% of births. Genetic factors alone cannot account for the increase. Could fluoridated water contribute to this increase?
Lancet Neurology continues:
The developing human brain is uniquely vulnerable to toxic chemical exposures, and major windows of developmental vulnerability occur in utero and during infancy and early childhood. During these sensitive life stages, chemicals can cause permanent brain injury at low levels of exposure that would have little or no adverse effect in an adult…
The fetus is not well protected against industrial chemicals. The placenta does not block the passage of many environmental toxicants from the maternal to the fetal circulation,13 and more than 200 foreign chemicals have been detected in umbilical cord blood.14Additionally, many environmental chemicals are transferred to the infant through human breastmilk.135)http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(13)70278-3/fulltext
Fluoride is just one of several chemicals researchers are concerned about. In particular, they found fluoride in water reduced IQ scores in Chinese children:
A meta-analysis of 27 cross-sectional studies of children exposed to fluoride in drinking water, mainly from China, suggests an average IQ decrement of about seven points in children exposed to raised fluoride concentrations.44 Confounding from other substances seemed unlikely in most of these studies.6)http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(13)70278-3/fulltext
Should we be adding fluoride to our water considering the potential of neurological damage? Aren’t there better ways to prevent tooth decay?
Fluoride in Water Around the World
99% of Europe does not fluoridate its water. Only 5% of the world does. 50% of water fluoridation occurs in North America.7)http://www.fluoridation.com/c-country.htm
Take for example Germany, where after unification in 1990, fluoridation ended. Why? The research found childhood caries rates were reduced independently of fluoridation.
Künzel W, Fischer T., Rise and fall of caries prevalence in German towns with different F concentrations in drinking water, Caries Research 1997, 31:3, 166-173
The rise and fall of caries prevalence (DMFT) and its relation to changing F concentration of drinking water and other health-related factors is analysed based on dental findings of more than 286,000 subjects of either sex (6-15 years old) from the two industrial towns Chemnitz and Plauen. Water fluoridation (1.0 ± 0.1 ppm F) was implemented in Chemnitz (formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt) in 1959. It was in operation until autumn 1990 with an interruption lasting 22 months around the year 1971. In the F-poor town of comparison, Plauen, 55% of the citizens were supplied with F-enriched drinking water (0.9 ppm F) during the years 1972-1984. Another 20% received F-containing mixed water (0.4-0.7 ppm F). During the first three decades of the study the level of caries prevalence was strictly correlated with the availability of an optimal caries preventive F concentration in the drinking water. Water fluoridation was followed by a decrease of caries, and interruptions in fluoridation were followed by increasing caries levels. A different caries trend was observed in the years from 1987 to 1995. There was a significant caries decrease down to the lowest DMFT (2.0) since 1959 in spite of the fact that only F-poor water was available over years in both towns. This improvement of oral health is explained by changes in caries-preventive and environmental conditions.8)http://www.fluoridation.com/c-germany.htm#Rise%20and%20fall%20of%20caries%20prevalence%20in%20German%20towns%20with%20different%20F%20concentrations%20in%20drinking%20water
Reducing tooth decay without fluoride added to water
Reduction of tooth decay is more closely tied to better oral hygiene, diet, and regular dental checkups than fluoride in water. Exposing our children to this neurotoxin is potentially damaging. We must weight benefits to risk.
I am not a doctor or a dentist. I have discussed fluoride with dental professionals. They endorse topical fluoride applications. It is an important discussion to have with your child’s dentist.
References [ + ]
|4, 5, 6.||↑||http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(13)70278-3/fulltext|