The Negative Effects of Drinking and Cleaning with Fluoride
Standard public opinion about fluoride tends to believe in the benefits of this compound. However, mounting evidence points to dangerous health risks from using and ingesting fluoride. Fluoride is a toxic compound that occurs as a byproduct of manufacturing aluminum, copper, and iron. Before using fluoride to fight cavities, it was an ingredient in insecticides and pest control products. An overdose of fluoride is a dangerous medical situation that could even lead to death.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for regulating fluoride levels in drinking water. Fluoride may naturally be present in drinking water if fluoride is present in soil and bedrock in an area; but, beginning in 1945, public health officials also add it to municipal water supplies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adding between 0.7 milligrams per liter and 1.2 milligrams per liter of fluoride to drinking water for effectiveness.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines fluoride as a medicine, not a nutrient because the purpose of adding fluoride to drinking water is to prevent cavities. With fluoride present in drinking water, people are ingesting it; however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledge that the main benefits of fluoride come from topical contact with the surfaces of teeth – not from ingestion. Fluoride does not need to be and should not be swallowed to benefit teeth.
Adding too much fluoride to drinking water could cause skeletal fluorosis. Over the course of a lifetime, fluoride accumulates in bones. As fluoride levels increase in the skeleton, symptoms resembling arthritis could begin. High fluoride levels in bones typically cause stiffness and joint pain in the beginning. Over time and with continued exposure, bones and ligaments calcify, which leads to severe pain, bone fractures, and impairment. A combination of exposures typically leads to skeletal fluoroses, such as ingesting fluoride in food, drinking water, and excessively in toothpaste.
General wellbeing also plays a role in how a body manages fluoride exposure. Some people are more at risk to the negative effects of fluoride. People with diabetes, kidney disease, and nutritional deficiencies can be more adversely affected by fluoride than the typical population. Fluoride can affect the body as an endocrine disruptor. With ongoing exposure to fluoride, changes occur in thyroid function, resulting in an under-functioning thyroid. Symptoms of low thyroid function include dry skin, low energy, constipation, lack of perspiration and low body temperature.
Fluoride can also affect the pineal gland in the brain because fluoride accumulates in this gland. The pineal gland secretes melatonin, which regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle. With disrupted melatonin levels, young girls may experience puberty earlier. This accelerated sexual maturation can lead to increased risks of breast cancer later in life. Fluoride may also increase blood sugar levels and interfere with a body’s glucose tolerance. This combination can lead to type 2 diabetes over time. Diabetics may also drink more water than the non-diabetic population, which can further exacerbate the issues because of increased fluoride consumption in water.
Fluoride can have a direct impact on the brain in similar ways that lead and mercury affects the brain. In fact, fluoridated water flowing through aged lead pipes could even leach lead from the pipes, leading to high lead levels in the drinking water as well. Fluoride has a connection with reduced intelligence, impaired memory, and reduced visual-spatial abilities. Fluoride may also affect fetal brain development. Chronic exposure to fluoride may also have a correlation with dementia, cancer, gastrointestinal issues, and genetic damage.
Overexposure to fluoride can also lead to dental fluorosis. With this condition, defects in tooth enamel occur because fluoride interferes with cells in the teeth. Children under age 8 are at an increased risk of developing dental fluorosis. With dental fluorosis, teeth appear cloudy with spots and streaks. Tooth erosion and brown stains can also occur.
People who receive fluoride from too many sources, such as water, toothpaste, and other dental products, are at risk for dental fluorosis. Some foods and beverages even contain added fluoride. Infants who ingest formula that contains fluoridated tap water may consume excessive amounts of fluoride, putting them at risk for dental fluorosis.
It’s possible to avoid ingesting fluoride by not drinking tap water. Some bottled water contains fluoride and some do not. Some whole-house filtration systems remove fluoride from all water, but fluoride filtration can be costly due to the tiny size of the fluoride ion. Fluoride enters the body orally and from skin contact. Thus, avoiding contact with fluoride involves removing it from water used for bathing