What most people are surprised to learn, however, is that the original US patents for sodium fluoride had little to do with fighting cavities. In fact, sodium fluoride was originally used as a pesticide and a rat poison. Nearly a hundred years ago fluoride was being patented as an insecticide due to "the poisonous action of soluble fluoride [which may be] utilized for the control of injurious insects. For example, sodium fluoride, a salt readily soluble in water, is a very effective roach poison and is a common ingredient of roach powders.”[i]
Besides being marketed as an insecticide and a rat poison, the beginning of the twentieth century saw sodium fluoride being used in the medical field as an anti-thyroid drug, to slow down over-active thyroids (hyperthyroidism). According to research, the daily dose required to slow down thyroid function ranged from 2-5 mg per day given over a period of months.[ii] As a result, many believe that the rise of hypothyroidism in the United States can be directly traced back to water fluoridation.
But won't fluoride protect my teeth?
Although many people believe that fluoride prevents cavities and makes for strong teeth, there has never been a single scientific randomized trial conducted that demonstrates fluoridation’s effectiveness or safety[iii]. In fact, there is growing national and international evidence that suggests that fluoride does not actually prevent cavities at all. In 2002, nearly 90% of the U.S. population received water via public water systems; approximately 67% of that number received fluoridated water. In spite of this, there have been numerous reports that state that, “no statistically significant differences were found in the decay rates of permanent teeth or the percentages of decay-free children in the fluoridated, non-fluoridated, and partially fluoridated areas.”[iv]
Is fluoride really dangerous?
Proponents of water fluoridation state that in the right dosages, fluoride is safe.
A quick glance at the Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) for sodium fluoride may prove otherwise. The MSDS states that it is “slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (corrosive). It also says that “the substance may be toxic to kidneys, lungs, the nervous system, heart, gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system, bones, and teeth. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.[v]” So, the question becomes: how much sodium fluoride can safely be ingested?
Unfortunately, there have been too few scientific studies to reach a consensus as to how much can safely be ingested.
What can happen?
One of the most common and visible side effects of fluoride poisoning is a condition called dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis, as well as being unsightly, in its most severe forms is actually the rotting away of the tooth enamel from the inside out. According to the key findings from the National Health and Nutritional Survey focusing on the years 1999-2004, the prevalence of dental fluorosis in adolescents in the United States has reached levels of 41%[vi].
Severe dental fluorosis from water fluoridation poses the greatest threat to young children, especially those younger than six months of age. A study conducted by Dr. Steven Levy, D.D.S, and his team found that “fluoride intake during the first four years were individually significantly related to fluorosis on maxillary central incisors, with the first year more important”.
In 2006, the National Research Council (NRC) wrote “it is apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain and the body by direct and indirect means.” Not only have there been several studies that show a link between fluoride ingestion and lowered IQ, but there have also been multiple animal studies that suggest that with amounts as small as 1 ppm (the typical level in most fluoridated drinking waters) kidney damage is observed[vii].
What can I do to take action?
“We know that 4 or 5 mg per day of fluoride is too much, but the problem is that no one knows how much people are actually getting. Those who exercise and drink a lot of water, bathe frequently, swim in pools, etc. or use fluoridated toothpaste or mouth rinses, may be overexposed to fluoride without realizing it. The first step to take is to stop drinking fluoridated water. You will need more than the standard carbon canister water filters for this purpose. Instead, you will need a reverse osmosis or distillation unit.” Richard Shames, MD.
If you feel that water fluoridation may be creating a health problem for you or a member of your family, you can try purchasing an under counter reverse osmosis system. These systems are not unfairly priced, as they range from between $200 - $600.00 USD. This will help. As well, a simple filter installed on your shower head can be purchased for as little as $70 USD. Unfortunately, the real problem is that once fluoride is added to water, it is very difficult to remove. Even most reverse osmosis water filtration systems will only remove up to 98% of the fluoride in your water.
If you are looking at installing a reverse osmosis system, be sure to buy one with a re-mineralization stage as the body does need some minerals to function properly.
Another simple solution is to give fluoride-free toothpaste a try. I have been using fluoride-free toothpaste for years now. They leave my mouth and teeth feeling fresh and clean, and they are safe for use with your children too. I pick mine up at the local health food store.
The best way to avoid becoming ill from fluoridation is to be informed. If after reading this, you would still like to learn more, click on either of the two links below:
Fluoride Action Network– www.fluoridealert.org
Mercola.com – www.fluoride.mercola.com
Erin Douglas is a registered yoga instructor and a classically trained homeopath. Her life-long passion for healing has taken her all over the world from learning yogic philosophy and healing in India to studying Vipassana meditation in Northern Thailand with the Buddhist monks. She received her formal training in classical homeopathy at the renowned Canadian College of Homeopathic Medicine in Toronto, Ontario, the first province in Canada to regulate homeopathy. She operates a complementary medicine healing clinic and every month, organizes seven and fourteen day spiritual yoga retreats and adventures in Waikiki, Hawaii. For more information on joining an upcoming Hawaiian Adventure Yoga Retreat or to book a homeopathic or nutritional consultation, feel free to check out her website or send an email.
[i] Rurik C. ROARK, Baltimore, Md.: "Insecticide", US Patent 1,524,884; filed Aug. 6, 1923; granted Feb. 3, 1925; http://www.fluoride-history.de/p-insecticides.htm
[ii] Galletti P, et. al. 1958. "Effect of fluorine on thyroidal iodine metabolism in hyperthyroidism. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology," 18(10):1102-1110. 1958
[iii] 50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation; http://fluoridealert.org/articles/50-reasons
[iv] WATER FLUORIDATION AND TOOTH DECAY: RESULTS FROM THE 1966-1987 NATIONAL SURVEY OF U.S. SCHOOLCHILDREN; http://www.fluorideresearch.org/232/files/FJ1990_v23_n2_p055-067.pdf
[v] Material Safety Data Sheet Sodium fluoride MSDS; http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927595
[vi] National Health and Nutritional Survey 1999-2004; http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db53.pdf
[vii] Fluorotoxic metabolic bone disease: an osteo-renal syndrome caused by excess fluoride ingestion in the tropics, Harinarayan CV, et al (2006).