Since early childhood, well-meaning dentists, parents, and teachers have told us that fluoride is necessary for healthy teeth. The belief that we need fluoride to prevent cavities is, in fact, so strong that many governments mandate its presence in the public water supply. Concerns over its safety are unfortunately brushed off as conspiracy theories, invented by “crunchy” hippies. However, a new study adds to the case against fluoride’s safe and effective popular image. It turns out that higher levels of exposure can lower IQ in children.
The Effects Of Fluoride On Early-Life Development
In a Canadian study, researchers measured levels of urinary fluoride in 512 pregnant women, as well as self-reported consumption in 400 women. They then compared these to the IQ of their children at age three to four years. Women in areas with fluoridated public water had significantly higher urinary levels and consumed more of the mineral. A one milligram per liter (mg/L) increase in urinary fluoride was linked to a 4.49-point reduction in IQ among boys. There was a smaller, non-significant relationship seen in girls. Adjusting for lead, manganese, mercury, arsenic, or PFOA did not change these estimates. The researchers added that a similar Mexican study found a 6.3-point drop in IQ per 1mg/L increase in mothers’ urinary fluoride. This was, however, an average figure for both sexes. The effects of fluoride may be one reason why boys have higher rates of ADHD, learning disabilities, and intellectual impairments than girls.
Fluoride: Adding To The Evidence
The Canadian study is not the only research reporting neurotoxic effects of fluoride. A large review of population studies found that higher fluoride exposure is consistently linked to lower IQs. This link remained after controlling for factors such as arsenic exposure or iodine deficiency. Most studies were from China, where many areas have naturally high fluoride levels without contamination from other neurotoxins. Other papers show that fluoride readily crosses the placenta, and the developing brain is more vulnerable to toxins than that of adults. Laboratory research has demonstrated that exposure to fluoride at one part per million (ppm) can alter brain structure and increase aluminum buildup. One ppm is the concentration commonly added to drinking water. Another study, using short-term exposure to high levels found that fluoride impairs learning and memory by causing serotonin and noradrenalin imbalances.
Fluoride isn’t only harmful to the developing brain. It can damage the bones too. The National Research Council’s 2006 review of fluoride toxicity concluded that it raises the risk of bone fractures at just 4ppm, the EPA’s safety limit. It is also likely to weaken the skeleton at even lower doses. Half of the ingested fluoride is excreted, while the rest accumulates in the bones and has a half-life of 20 years. Older people can have fluoride levels of several thousand ppm, which starts to make them more brittle. Who wants to put up with weeks or months of pain, limitations, and recovery from a fracture? Certainly not us. British research finds that fluoride may increase the risk of hypothyroidism by 30 percent where tap water levels exceed 0.3mg/L. Hypothyroidism rates were doubled in urban areas with intentional fluoridation.
Can We Live Without Fluoride?
The argument for the fluoridation of water and toothpaste is that we need it to prevent tooth decay. Read more here for a history on fluoride toxicity. However, it only reduces cavities by 15-35 percent, much less than the two-thirds claimed by advocates in the 20th century. Cavity rates are also far lower than 60 years ago in countries both with and without fluoridation. It is not the only way to protect our teeth, either. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy where you swish coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. It removes toxins, cuts through plaque and acts against Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities. Clove oil, chelated silver, and aloe vera gel are other useful antimicrobials.
As for foods, leafy green vegetables, fish, eggs, bone broth, avocado, and coconut contain nutrients that support healthy teeth. Reduce phytates by soaking, sprouting or fermenting grains, beans, nuts, and legumes, in order to improve mineral absorption. The best way to remove fluoride from your drinking water is to use a reverse osmosis filter, such as the AquaTru countertop system. Remineralize the water with a broad spectrum solution, as reverse osmosis filtration removes all substances.
Fluoride’s negative health effects clearly outweigh any potential benefits. We do not need it for dental health, and fortunately, we can avoid it even where the government adds it to public tap water.