“It is of high importance that we speak about the possible dangers associated with fluoride. The available research based evidence suggests that fluoride has a potential to cause major human health problems, while the promoted dental caries prevention effects are much less significant.”
Since the mid-1940s the mineral fluoride has been added to community water supplies throughout Canada and the U.S. to prevent tooth decay. It has been a hotly debated subject concerning health and safety risks for reducing cavities. Most people don’t give it a second thought when visiting dentists for regular cleaning and check-up as the fluoride gel is pressed against our teeth during the final procedure. It has got to be good for us, why else would the dentists be giving it, and why else would it be in toothpaste and in drinking water? Then I am reminded that dentists still offer amalgam (mercury) fillings in Canada and the U.S. whereas in other countries it is treated as toxic waste. The answer for the previous question leads to another perspective. What exactly is the problem with fluoride and should we avoid it?
“The first measure should be to ban [mercury] amalgams,” says Marie Grosman, a life science teacher, scientific adviser for the Non au Mercure Dentaire organisation and a member of the Réseau Environnement et Santé (RES) organisation. “We should pay attention to the materials dentists are using in our mouths. Toxicity tests are needed to guarantee that they are innocuous and compatible with our bodies. That would rule out mercury immediately, which has several proven toxic effects. Yet it is covered by the Social Security!” According to Grosman, “mercury passes through the placenta because dental mercury is found in the umbilical cord and in the developing child’s organs”.
It has become more and more evident that in an era of fluoridated toothpastes and other products developed to boost dental health may not be the biggest concern and that the potential risks from consuming fluoridated water may become more harmful than beneficial.
In June 2015, the Cochrane Collaboration—a global independent network of researchers and health care professionals known for rigorous scientific reviews of public health policies—published an analysis of 20 key studies on water fluoridation. They found that while water fluoridation is effective at reducing tooth decay among children, “no studies that aimed to determine the effectiveness of water fluoridation for preventing caries [cavities] in adults met the review’s inclusion criteria.” The report mentioned above also concluded that previous scientific investigations in favor of fluoridated water were conducted before 1975 and were deeply flawed.
“According to fluoride poisoning data collected by the American Association of Poison Control (AAPC), tooth paste ingestion remains the main source of toxicity followed by fluoride containing mouth washes and supplements. The highest proportion (more than 80%) of the cases of fluoride toxicity was reported in children below the age of 6.” It seems that fluoride is not so safe for children after all, even though the original argument for introducing it was that it helps to reduce cavities in children which would be good for them. On second thought maybe it’s not so good.
The same concerns arise regarding adults, especially those with a pre-existing health condition. For example kidney patients are at higher risk of bone damage because damaged kidneys are unable to efficiently excrete fluoride from the body. It means that “kidney patients accumulate up to four times more fluoride in their bones than healthy individuals, and have similar increases in their blood as well.”
Kidneys are the most commonly affected organ due to the uptake of fluoride but it isn’t the only organ affected. Fluoride negatively influences the gastrointestinal tract and also affects the central nervous system and can lead to fetal defects since fluoride crosses the placental barrier (like mercury) and incorporates into the fetal tissues. “Fluoride can cross the blood brain barrier prior to birth viewed as a neurotoxin has been reported to affect mental development, learning disorders, and decrease intelligence and hyperactivity in children.” The intellectual capabilities of children can be influenced by ingestion of dietary fluoride. Tests have shown that children with higher levels of fluoride scored less points on intelligence tests compared with children ingesting lower amounts of fluoride.
It is of high importance that we speak about the possible dangers associated with fluoride, especially in light that the initial fluoride findings were flawed and not addressed and used as the bases for everyday use. Today’s available research based evidence suggests that fluoride has a potential to cause major human health problems, while the promoted dental caries prevention effects are much less significant. This is why the practice of artificial water fluoridation should be reconsidered globally among the other tightening measures related to the use of fluoride. The possible good does not warrant its use when all things are considered.
- Connett, M. 2012. Kidney Patients Are at Increased Risk of Fluoride Poisoning. https://fluoridealert.org/studies/kidney01/
- Davis, N. 2016. Is Fluoridated Drinking Water Safe?
- Santi, P. 2011. French dentists move away from mercury fillings.
- Ullah, R., Zafar, M. S., & Shahani, N. 2017. Potential fluoride toxicity from oral medicaments: A review. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences, 20(8), 841–848. https://doi.org/10.22038/IJBMS.2017.9104
 Santi, P. 2011.
 Davis, N. 2016.
 Ullah, R., Zafar, M. S., & Shahani, N. 2017.
 Connett, M. 2012.
 Ullah, R., Zafar, M. S., & Shahani, N. 2017.