For years I’ve been hearing this debate on whether fluoride in our drinking water and toothpaste is dangerous for human consumption or not. A friend of mine kept sending me articles and information on the subject matter so I finally took some time to get to the bottom of all this.
First – The Playlist…
Since all ToobBox.com blog posts have an associated video playlist (because first and foremost we are a playlist website.) – let’s announce the playlist for this article now: “Fluoride and Drinking Water”.
My first run in with fluoride outside of chemistry class
It would of been after watching one of my favorite movies of all time – Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove:
There is a classic scene where General Ripper goes on a rant about how fluoride in our drinking water is a Communist plot to rob our “precious bodily fluids”.
Naturally, when someone mentions this fluoride issue, my first thoughts go back to this scene where this crazed maniac start talking about how fluoridation of the water supply is a conspiracy by the Commies.
And when you realize that Dr. Strangelove came out in 1964, you have to wonder why this fear hasn’t been resolved yet
The Origins of the Fluoride Debate / Conspiracy
I guess this debate started right out of the gates – as soon as they started to fluoridate water in the 1940s (in the United States). During the years of McCarthyism – it seems to have turned into a “Communist” plot to hurt the God-fearing Christians of the United States.
I would have to assume that certain people who were educated in chemistry knew that fluoride was a dangerous chemical for humans and began raising awareness. And somehow that snowballed into the great debate we still have today.
Why do they put fluoride in the water anyway?
Apparently, the only thing I can find to answer this question is: to prevent tooth decay. It seems like a weak reason. I mean how beneficial is preventing tooth decay? Well that depends…
Over 100 years ago, people dropped dead from cavities. It’s true! If you let a cavity take its course, you end up getting an infection that can kill you.
And if you go back to 1940, and the United States was just getting out of the depression – I guess it made sense to protect the basic health of its citizens by fluoridating the water. It was seen as an easy way to automatically improve the health of even the most impoverished citizens.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) goes on to list these benefits of fluoride in the water supply:
- Studies show that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by about 25 percent over a person’s lifetime.
- Every $1 invested in this preventive measure yields approximately $38 savings in dental treatment costs.
The CDC is pretty adamant about how important it is to fluoridate the water supply. They actually list it as one of the ten greatest medical achievements of last century.
But, the question still remains: Is fluoride bad for you?
Well the answer depends on the amount you ingest. “So you see IT IS BAD FOR YOU!”
Well, hold your horses. A LOT OF STUFF is bad for you depending on the amount you ingest. If you consumed 1 gram of caffeine all at once, you would probably die of a heart attack immediately. And 1 gram isn’t that much material.
With fluoride it depends on the concentration of fluoride you are regularly ingesting.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) says that you should not be exposed to 4 ppm or 4.0 mg/L of fluoride in your drinking water.
However, certain studies suggest that the recommended maximum amount should be lowered to 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water.
I found this article to be the most helpful, which was from a New Hampshire State website (.gov) and didn’t seem to have a bias on the subject. It went on to say:
At concentrations above 4.0 mg/L, studies have shown the possibility of skeletal fluorosis, as well as the staining of teeth. In its most severe form, skeletal fluorosis is characterized by irregular bone deposits that may cause arthritis and crippling when occurring at joints. EPA recognizes skeletal fluorosis as a health concern, and thus requires that public water systems not only notify their customers, but also treat the water to lower the fluoride concentration. Less than 1 percent of New Hampshire bedrock wells have fluoride that exceeds exceed 4.0 mg/L.
It goes on to say:
The optimal concentration, as recommended by CDC for New Hampshire, is approximately 1.1 mg/L. (1.1 mg/L is the same as saying 1.1 parts per million parts (ppm)). Below 0.5 mg/L there is little tooth decay protection. Above 1.5 mg/L, there is little additional tooth decay prevention benefit.
So, this is a sketchy topic. Because depending on where you live, and what your local water supplier is going by – you could be receiving near the upper limit of your daily fluoride intake. Add the extra exposure of more fluoride to the mix by brushing your teeth once a day, and now you’ll be ingesting fluoride at a level is no longer a healthy a level – and more of a health risk.
What about bottled water – how much fluoride is in that stuff?
Well that depends on the brand. Some brands explicitly state how much fluoride they add to their water. But the other thing you have to find out is if they are using tap water, filtering it, adding fluoride and other ingredients and bottling it. Because if they are using tap water as their source, they might not be removing the existing fluoride.
Here’s a discussion on fluoride free bottled water.
What about homeless people and those who can’t afford toothpaste?
This is a great question. It’s true that if they stopped fluoridating the water supply, those who can’t afford toothpaste (which is ridiculous because dentists give out for free all day long), and homeless people would be missing out on this free and automatic government service of preventing tooth decay.
That is one of the cool things about living in America – no matter where you are, you are pretty much guaranteed access to clean, potable water that will protect your teeth. If you think about it, not many countries in the world offer such an important service. I mean the number 1 thing you need to stay alive is clean water.
Are People who are scared of fluoride crazy?
Absolutely not. The important thing to realize here is that people concerned about fluoride have identified a possible heath risk and are alarmed by it. The important thing for them to do now – is conduct research and try to come up with a sound conclusion. Like me
Is putting fluoride in the water supply a government conspiracy?
I really REALLY doubt it. In fact – that would be absurd. Here’s why:
- The “government” drinks the same damn water. Whether it’s from the tap or bottled water, we are all drinking the same stuff. So why would “they” want to harm themselves? It’s not like every time they move to a new home, they secretly get “clean” water piped into their new house, or they install reverse osmosis filters at ever sink they frequent.
- What’s their motive? To make us all sick, to make us all “dumber” so we become too stupid to think for ourselves? I don’t buy it – how would that help the government out? It’s obviously not a form of population control. If Americans ARE dumber than ever, there are way too many factor to consider than just fluoride alone.
Countries that have stopped putting fluoride in their water supply
Here’s a list of countries that currently fluoridate their water supply. It’s interesting to note that Japan doesn’t do it. Don’t the Japanese get crap for having poor dental hygiene?
I’VE COME UP WITH AN ULTRA SIMPLE ANSWER FOR ALL THIS NOISE – Since fluoride in excessive amounts is bad for you AND the fact that all toothpaste we use has fluoride in it, then there is no need to drink fluoridated water. Drink bottled spring water that hasn’t been fluoridated and you should have nothing to worry about. Oh…and don’t eat toothpaste.
Leave your tap water for cleaning, showering and watering the plants..
If you are going to start freaking about damaging your body from chemical exposure or ingestion – muahaaha…well my friend, I’m going to give you a list of things to freak out about that will either:
- Make you go insane…OR
- Stop worrying about things like this.
Here’s the list:
- Benzene – Benzene is super poisonous and carcinogenic. Anytime you’re sitting behind a diesel truck, that’s spewing fumes into your car window, you’re inhaling A LOT of really BAD stuff.
- Key Lock Lubricant – I’m talking about the stuff that’s inside your door keyhole. You should never touch your keys. The lubricant in lock grease is super dangerous. Even skin contact is bad for you. But how are you supposed to NOT touch your keys?!?!
- All the weird, UN-pronounceable chemicals put in processed foods. These chemicals were never meant to be in our body. Some are probably totally inert, while others might be terrible for you – but for now who knows!
- Vinyl – your steering wheels and steering wheel covers, your furniture, all kinds of plastic objects you touch every day, even some of your clothes are made out of this cancer causing material. Sounds like you need to spend all night throwing out some clothes son!
- Your Cell Phone – The World Health Organization release a study a year ago about how BAD cell phones are you. I know you’re on that shit right now!
- Roasted, Fried and Baked Foods! – The process of roasting and baking foods makes a cancer causing chemicals called Acrylamides. That means no more coffee, espresso, STARBUCKS buddy! No more bread, pies, roasted peanuts, or really anything cooked
- Pickled Foods – The list of foods that cause cancer seems to NEVER stop growing!
- The Non-Stick Teflon Frying Pans – Well since you shouldn’t be eating fried foods anyway, I guess this is something you don’t have to worry about that much, but apparently the first time you heat up a new pan, a carcinogenic gas is released.
- BPAs in Plastic Bottles – So now you’re going to buy spring water with no fluoride in it. Well make sure those bottles don’t have BPAs in them – and yes..it’s another carcinogen
Finally if you smoke, are overweight and don’t exercise….well….PFFFT…you have higher priorities to be concerned first. I guess what this is really about: You need to go through all the unhealthy things that are in your life and rank them in order of what’s worst for you. Start knocking out the really BAD things first. If you get to fluoride, well then you are much more on the ball than I am!
About the Author: Sean Traba is the co-founder of Toobbox.com.