Every six months, a postcard appears in my mailbox, featuring a frighteningly happy, giant tooth and a reminder that it is, once again, time for a trip to the dentist. The notification is followed by a great deal of procrastination and a flood of distressing memories. Past visits have, after all, included unnecessary tooth-pulls (it would have come out on its own), horrible tasting cleaners (berry is NOT better than mint) and drills, very loud, very scary drills. If there is anything I can do to numb the pain of the dentist’s chair, I will do it, which is why the idea of fluoride sounds so good. Fluoride helps fight tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel and allowing damaged teeth to re-mineralize themselves. The oral-care section of every store is stocked with fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes. It seems to be the chemical that makes mouths happy. But then, why did the Fluoride Action Network release a statement, signed by 600 health professionals, calling for an end to fluoridation? Because, water fluoridation isn’t helping.
Water fluoridation occurs throughout the country. Municipal water suppliers pump H20 full of fluoride in an attempt to fight tooth decay and increase dental health. It is an entirely well-meaning process. However, it is one that hurts far more than it helps. Research has shown that ingesting fluoride in liquids is minimally effective. Fluoride really only helps teeth when it is applied directly, via toothpaste or mouthwash. So, fluoridated water is doing nothing but over-exposing us to a deleterious chemical. Too much fluoride can lead to permanent fluoride spotting on the teeth and possibly increase the risk of bone fracture, affect the immune, thyroid and endocrine systems, and contribute to the occurrence of bone cancer in boys. It is also particularly harmful to pregnant women and infants. But even with all of these harmful effects, there is nothing being done by government officials to end water fluoridation. Avoiding this chemical falls to the individual, meaning you.
Before taking the steps to eliminate fluoride in your tap, check online to see if there is actually fluoride in your water supply. The Environmental Working Group has information on the specific contaminants found in nearly 40,000 water utilities throughout the country. If you do in fact have fluoride in your water, you can filter it out but only with a reverse osmosis filter. Typical tap filters do not eliminate fluoride. Now, these can be fairly expensive, so another option (much as I hate to say it) is to drink bottled water. You can get fluoride-free bottled water at most stores. But you should keep in mind that the price of buying a pack of bottled water every week will soon add up to and surpass the price of a reverse osmosis filter. If neither option is possible, DO NOT stop drinking water. Dehydration is never a healthy choice. In this case, you’ll have to choose the lesser of two evils, and fluoridated water trumps no water every time.