I grew up on fluoride. My family had fluoridated toothpaste; as a child, I was taken to the dentist for regular fluoride treatments. And so I raised my children the same way: fluoridated. But new studies are emerging that have made me rethink that decision. And now I’m worried: Is fluoride dangerous?
I grew up on fluoride. But now I’m worried: Is fluoride dangerous? Roughly three-quarters of Americans drink fluoridated water, at levels between .7 and 1.2 milligram per liter, as part of a federal effort to prevent tooth decay that began in the 1960s. Historically, local and state governments decided whether or not to add fluoride–and at what levels–to municipal water (visit the Center for Disease Control’s website to find out if water if fluoridated in your state). The fluoride additive is derived from manufacturing phosphate fertilizer, according to the CDC, which recommends it to “promote good oral health.”
But now scientists are beginning to rethink this policy, because some studies beg the question: Is fluoride dangerous?
According to the Fluoride Action Network, most developed nations do not fluoridate their water, and yet there’s no difference in rates of tooth decay. (Granted, it’s a biased source, but that fact seemed worth mentioning.)
In March, a study published in Environmental Health found that states with higher levels of water fluoridation had correspondingly high levels of ADHD. The data held solid across six years of examination, even when adjusted for socioeconomic status.
According to a Newsweek story on the study: “Since 1992, the percentage of the U.S. population that drinks fluoridated water has increased from 56 percent to 67 percent, during which time the percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis has increased from around seven percent to more than 11 percent.”
And then there’s this:
Research conducted in 2012 found that children living in areas with high levels of water fluoridation had lower IQ scores.
One recent English study found high fluoride levels linked to hypothyroidism.
These studies may have been behind the Department of Health and Human Services recent about face on the amount of fluoride in drinking water, the first action taken on this issue since 1962. Last month, they cut the recommendation in half, to .7 milligrams per liter. The move came because “now Americans have access to more sources of fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, than they did when fluoridation was first introduced in the United States,” deputy surgeon general Dr. Boris Lushniak was quoted as saying in a NPR story on the decision.
As I posted previously, children consider toothpaste a condiment–a fact that worried me when I realized there was propylene glycol and other toxic chemicals in the mix. My kids are old enough to spit, not swallow, but after doing my research on fluoride I wonder if we should give that up, as well.
Here are a few natural fluoride-free toothpastes that I found on Amazon, which are free of sodium lauryl sulfates, parabens, triclosan and other baddies as well. For adults, I like Now Foods Xyliwhite Baking Soda Toothpaste in Platinum Mint or Jason Sea Fresh Toothpaste in Deep Sea Spearmint. For kids, there’s Coral Kids Toothpaste in Berry Bubblegum, which is sweetened with stevia.
What do you think? Do you use fluoride toothpaste? Is your water fluoridated? Please tell me about it, in comments below. Thanks!