Fluoride in Water: Good or Bad?

fluoride

Fluoride content for the first time in 50 years may be lowered based on recommendations by the U.S. government, and in turn is sparking off debate as to whether having this chemical in drinking water is a good thing or a bad thing. For more than seventy years, fluoride had been hailed as a chemical, contained in toothpaste and drinking supplies, which aided dental care and prevented tooth decay, however due to the possibility that too much of this chemical could cause the teeth to get white spots, recommendations have been made as to whether the dosage in the water needs to be lowered.

Previous recommendations for fluoride content were made in 1962 allowing for each liter of water between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams. Now 50 years later, the government is recommending a cap per liter at 0.7 milligrams. One of the reasons for this recommendations is the access that most consumers have today to fluoride, mainly in their mouthwash and toothpaste, leading to the concern of whether people are receiving too much of an intake. And in actuality, since its inception in water, there has not been any type of proof that the use of fluoride in water has produced any type of benefits. To determine this factor, one has to look no further than non-industrial countries, where the amount childhood tooth decay in no larger than in Westernized countries.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that since water is swallowed, it does not have the same effect as toothpaste, which is added topically to the teeth. There is no need whatsoever, therefore, to swallow fluoride to protect teeth. Because of these findings, there is a growing number of health conscious people who question whether water should contain the chemical at all. Supporting their argument that it should be kept out is in fact that its sole purpose of fluoride is to prevent tooth decay as opposed to keeping the water clean like the other chemicals added. For this reason, an ethical debate exists as to whether consumers should be forced against their will to ingest a chemical, in which if it were lacking, would not be causing serious harm. On the other hand, some may be sensitive to its dosage.

Unlike the case with vaccines, in which without it, other individuals may be in harms way, if one were to refrain from taking fluoride, he would not be affecting others. And while there may be several advantages to having fluoride in the drinking water supply, there may be several reasons why this could be a bad thing rather than a good thing.

In addition to the fact that fluoride does nothing for the purification of water in itself, further weakening the argument in favor of its use is that it is in actuality a drug. Drugs are generally prescribed to treat or aid patients, and even though a physician has the right to recommend treatment, and write out a prescription, it does not extend to forcing the patient use it against his or her will. In fluoridating water, hence, the government is exercising its authority to do to its people what doctors are not.

Adding to the fact that fluoride is a drug, even if it is beneficial to most, there is no way to determine whether the individual drinker is receiving too much or too little of it. No consumer drinks the same amount of water as the next. For example, athletes, diabetics, and people in labor intensive lines of work drink several liters of water a day. And even if one were to use statistical information to determine the right amount, there is no way of monitoring the dosage the individual is receiving, since so many consumer products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, meat which has been mechanically deboned, and pesticides all contain traces of fluoride. In fact, since its introduction more than 80 years ago in water, and even with its reduction in the 1960’s, fluoride consumption across the board has increased drastically.

This problem is further magnified when people of certain age groups have more adverse reactions to it than others. According to Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology, Dr. Arvid Carlsson, the reason fluoride was kept out of Sweden’s drinking water was simply for the reason that fluoridation of water runs counter to the principles of pharmacotherapy. In fact, he as well as others are pointing out that the presence of fluoride in drinking water could prove detrimental.

As early as 1978, sources revealed that fluoride intervened with the function of enzymes, such as G-proteins, which were necessary for the development of the body’s neurotransmitters and growth hormones. In fact 33 studies from around the world, including China and India, showed through experiments, that even a moderate amount of fluoride had contributed to a lowering of learning abilities and overall IQ. In addition to the drug affecting the brain, because fluoride in water is ingested instead of applied topically to the tooth, most of it ends up in the body where becomes absorbed into the bones, causing them to be over-calcified. Due to this process, and the fact that the bodies of children retain more nutrients and chemicals and excrete less of it, the bones as a result, lose flexibility, leading to more fractures and severe conditions later in life, such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

While fluoridation in water may not be one of the most severe dangers, and most of the population may seem relatively safe, at the same time, there are not enough benefits provided to favor its use. Eliminating fluoride from city and water supplies would not be a bad thing, as with all the available alternatives, it may be do may good to leave it out. In addition to the fact that the government does not have a right to administer drugs to the general population, not a single individual will be losing out from its absence, and at the same time, the eliminating it will result in an improvement of the populations physical as well as mental health.

By Bill Ades

Sources:
Time
Fluoride Alert
MPR
Photo by Ceyhun (Jay) Isik – Creativecommons Flickr Creative Commons License