Over 50% of the United States has fluoridated drinking water. However, growing concern is mounting about the adverse effects of fluoride - especially when flushed into our drinking water. The concerns have risen out of two primary problems found with the chemical: where it comes from and the long-term effects of ingesting fluoride.
Where does this chemical come from?
Many do not realize it, but fluoride is actually toxic waste. "Fluoride is emitted by aluminum, steel and fertilizer factories, and is a waste product of several other heavy industries as
well. These industries would normally have to pay high fees to dispose of fluoride. Instead, they sell it to water districts." Not only is this fact disturbing to many people, it also has become a concern that a conflict of interest is at play between the government saving money and looking to the health of the public.
What are the effects of ingesting it?
Because of the lack of definitive research regarding the effects of fluoride in drinking water, a clear position is difficult to substantiate. Dentists are divided in opinion regarding the health benefits of fluoridated water. The few studies conducted by the ADA are small and concentrated studies that could be exaggerating the statistics to support fluoridated water. However, the largest study, conducted by the National Institute of Dental Research, examined the effects of fluoride in 39,000 children and showed no significant differences in tooth decay levels between those children with fluoridated and those with non-fluoridated water.
Other studies have shown a relationship between fluoridated water and osteoporosis, bone cancer and lower IQ levels. When fluoride is ingested, our bodies filter out about half of the fluoride and the rest deposits on bones. As these deposits build up over time, your risk for osteoporosis goes up as well. Fluoride has also been connected with an increase in a form of bone cancer in young males because of the way fluoride interacts with the hormone testosterone in its relationship to bone development. In China, a study was done that linked fluoridated water to lower IQ levels among those children with dental fluorosis - a permanent discoloration of the teeth.
Fluoride is slightly less poisonous than arsenic and slightly more poisonous than lead. Understanding that it is a toxic waste, and that the solution to disposing of said waste is to flush it into our drinking water, may be a concern for you. However, the topical treatment of fluoride through toothpaste, mouthwash or dentist visits have been clearly shown to produce beneficial results. Topical treatment of fluoride reduces cavities and helps preserve enamel. However, swallowing fluoride is where you are most at risk.
Therefore, when maintaining proper dental health, understand that the best and most helpful option for you is to brush, floss and see the dentist regularly. If seeing the dentist is difficult to manage financially, look into purchasing a discount dental plan. An affordable dental plan will allow you to see the dentist at a much lower price than usual and you can still get the care you need. For your children, use non-fluoridated toothpaste and avoid giving them tap water. The various health risks for children are much higher for ingesting fluoride. While they learn to brush, supervise them and help them learn not to swallow the toothpaste. Otherwise, find out if your tap water is fluoridated. If it is, you can purchase bottled water or jugs of water with no fluoride, or you can purchase a reverse osmosis system or distilled water filter.