It’s in almost every tube of toothpaste you’ve seen in your entire life. Fluoride has made its name as one of the most effective substances to whiten teeth and fighting cavities.
It’s so good they even had to place it in your water supply so that everyone can benefit from it. That means it’s supposed to be good for you, right? The answer to that is a complicated “not necessarily”.
There are reasons why Fluoride should stay in your toothpaste and out of your coffee mug.
Why is there Fluoride in My Water?
Because of the supposed connection between fluoride and low cases of cavity, some communities have opted to increase the amount of naturally-occurring fluoride in drinking water systems. Think of it as “they’re doing this for your own good” sort of deal. This is done through a process known as water fluoridation. Before your drinking water reaches your taps and other sources, they go through government-owned filtration systems.
This is where they clean the water and make it potable. In addition to filtering, they also put controlled amounts of fluoride in water going back to the residential areas. This is how you end up with fluoridated water. But that’s not the only way you get fluoride from drinking water.
There are some companies that make and sell “fluoride water” in bottles that come from their own filtration systems. Although this water is drinkable and there are no noticeable changes in its appearance, you may be doing yourself more harm than good by quenching your thirst.
What’s so bad about it?
A history lesson is needed in order to answer the question of “what is fluoride?” and what makes it a risk. That tooth-protecting ion in your toothpaste has a bit of a grim tale.
So where does fluoride come from? It’s usually found in abundance within the earth’s crust and in some minerals like fluorite and fluorapatite. But that’s not where the fluoride in your water comes from. Just like any other commercialized substance, fluoride can be created in a laboratory.
And in the case of YOUR fluoridated water, it comes from aluminum manufacturing companies. The fluoride in your water is created from the process of manufacturing iron, copper and aluminum. The chemical processes that take place in these plants generate large amounts of fluoride as a by-product of the metals that they create. So what do you do with tons of fluoride industrial waste that you have to dispose? You market it as healthy and get the public to accept it.
That was the purpose behind a research effort in the early 1930’s which was funded by a large aluminum manufacturing organization. When their scientists discovered that fluoride can protect teeth from cavity, it was simply a matter of signing some papers to begin the fluoridation of your water. Win-win situation, right?
Don’t get the wrong idea. Fluoride is alright; If you’re not taking in too much, of course. Your drinking water already has fluoride even without other people adding more to it. So whether you like it or not, it’s already there.
In controlled amounts (like the amounts in toothpaste), fluoride can bind with the enamel in your teeth and replenish the minerals that you lose from daily exposure to acids in your food and drinks. It also works well with certain substances in your teeth to create a stronger shield against mineral loss from brushing and eating.
So is fluoride safe? If used properly, yes. As long as you don’t take in too much. Remember, you don’t drink your dirty toothpaste water in your mouth after brushing, right? Is fluoride good for you? It’s good for your teeth in the right amounts. But you know all too well that too much of a good thing is bad.
Why is Fluoride Bad?
So is fluoride bad for you? In certain conditions, it can be. With the fluoridation of your drinking water, those conditions become a little more realistic.
So what does fluoride do? The biggest fluoride side effect you can expect here is the threat of fluorosis. This is a condition wherein the enamel of the tooth changes drastically because of the abundance of fluoride in the body. You won’t notice it on the teeth that are already present in your mouth. It affects the teeth that are about to grow. That is why fluorosis is considered as a medical condition that affects children.
With fluorosis, the developing teeth come out discolored, with unremovable stains of yellow and brown. No matter how many times you brush, the stains are still there. So if you’re looking for reasons to make fluoride bad for you, this is one of them.
If you just intake fluoride from toothpaste, the dangers of fluoride don’t enter your bloodstream. This sets to rest any fears of people askin, “Is fluoride toxic?” if they just get it through toothpaste.It just stays on your teeth after you spit it out. That’s where it’s supposed to be. If you let it enter your bloodstream, your body has very little use for it and you become susceptible to fluoride side effects.
Think of it as consuming pimple cream with phosphate fluoride. It’s meant for your face and not your stomach. Fortunately, your kidneys work to get rid of the fluoride danger stuck in your body. But there’s a limit to what they can do. It can get rid of about half the amount you ingest after a few days. But if you consumer more fluoride than what your kidneys can take care of, that’s when the risk of fluorosis enters. There is even evidence that it can affect our thyroid gland.
So if you get fluoride from drinking water, food prepared with fluoridated water, bottled fluoride water , there’s no surprise to thinking that you’re at risk right this very moment.
How do I get rid of it?
Before you pick up a sign and start marching towards your local congressman, you can actually learn a few things on how to remove fluoride from water:
- Get a filter – You can buy a fluoride water filter for your home which attaches to various kinds of tap systems. On top of minimizing the amount of fluoride in your water, it also gets rid of other impurities that government filtration systems can’t do.
When choosing a filtration system, be sure to get ones that filter water through deionizing and reverse osmosis. These are the kinds of processes that kick out excess fluoride from the water.
- Get Spring Water – On top of buying a fluoride filter, you can also buy bottled spring water for your household. This variant is pure and fresh. It’s a lot safer, but not as cheap.
- Get a Distillation Unit – If you have more money to shell out, you might want to invest in a big distillation unit that you can install right into your home water system. These machines were built to filter every unnatural little bugger floating in your water; fluoride included.
More Reasons to Get Rid of Fluoride
If you’re not afraid of a little discolored teeth (and the social problems that come along with it), there are a few more things about the fluoridation of water that can close the deal for you:
- Fluoridation of water is not controlled. Although they say that they only put a small amount of fluoride into your water, the government doesn’t tell you how much of this water you drink. What if you play football on the weekdays? Different people drink different amounts of water. That means they have different exposure levels to fluoride.
- There’s no link between fluoridated water and cavity prevention. The US is one of the few places where this is done. But it’s still got more cases of cavity compared to Japan and Europe where they don’t drink fluoridated water.
- Fluoride is not medicine. It’s an additive to toothpaste. The only time you put an additive to a water system is if you’re treating a disease like measles. It’s not meant to be ingested; only plastered unto your teeth.
- It’s not FDA Approved. The Food and Drug Association in the US has already made a statement indicating that they themselves don’t think fluoride as a good food supplement. So why have everyone in town drink the blasted thing?
- It could have other health detriments. Besides fluorosis, there are other risks that fluoride presents that don’t just involve your teeth. It also involves various tissues in your body including your brain. Fancy getting arthritis or a lower IQ because of too much fluoride?
Is There Something in the Water?
So why are we still doing this? There are more reasons that point to this being a conspiracy. You might as well start thinking that larger corporations are working hard to make sure that their fluoride waste products stay in your water so that they don’t have to worry about getting rid of it themselves. Think of it as a fluoride conspiracy.
In 2013, various local communities such as the Center for Intercultural Organizing, Latino Network, Urban League and the Native American Youth and Family Center have received “donations” from the pro-fluoride campaign. Each of these organizations (who could potentially vote to get rid of fluoridated water) were given amounts ranging from $19000 to $20000.
If that doesn’t smell of something fishy, you’ve probably got fluoride up your nose as well.
5 Tips for Understanding Fluoride in Water
- Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water, soil, and rocks. It is also added to public drinking water supplies to help prevent tooth decay.
- The amount of fluoride in drinking water varies from place to place. The optimal level of fluoride for preventing tooth decay is 0.7 parts per million (ppm).
- Excessive exposure to fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis, which causes discoloration and pitting of the teeth.
- It is important to be aware of the levels of fluoride in your drinking water, as too much or too little can have negative health effects.
- If you are concerned about the levels of fluoride in your drinking water, you can install a home filtration system that removes it.
ALSO: Consider talking with your dentist about other ways to reduce your risk of tooth decay!
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About The Author
Carolyn Rodriguez works at AllAboutWaterFilters as a content research writer, specializing in content resources regarding water pollution, contamination, and treatment. She has previously worked as an editing assistant, content production assistant, research assistant, and ghost writer for a range of websites, with a particular concentration on water pollution. She is currently writing regularly for AllAboutWaterFilters as well as her own water safety essays across the web.