What if someone told you that every time you turned on your tap to get a drink of water you were pouring something harmful into your glass? If you were told that the toothpaste you use each day to clean your teeth, and your children’s teeth, also contained this same harmful substance you would no doubt think very long and hard before using that product again, wouldn’t you?

The scary thing is that this is exactly what we are doing day to day, ingesting a harmful substance because we have been conditioned into believing it is good for our teeth. The facts of the matter are vastly different, though, and I hope after reading this article you will all think long and hard about whether you might be better off buying bottled spring water and using a fluoride-free toothpaste.

Some fluorides are natural. But other fluorides are a pollutant, a by-product of copper, iron and aluminum manufacturing. The problem of how to legally dispose of fluoride was solved in the 1930s when a study (funded by one of the country’s largest aluminum companies, ALCOA) concluded that fluoride prevented tooth decay. Even more alarming, the chemicals most used to fluoridate drinking water are silicofluorides, a contaminated waste product of industry that was never safety tested on humans or animals. As a result, what we are actually doing is conducting a massive toxicological experiment with ourselves and our children as the test subjects. Silicofluorides are linked with children’s increased lead absorption. Studies link fluoride chemicals to bone fractures, lowered IQ, thyroid dysfunction, cancer, allergies and more.

So, what’s so bad about fluoride? British researchers report in the British Medical Journal that fluoridation studies are flawed. A Canadian government report found fluoridation does more harm than good. A U.S. National Institute of Health Panel found most tooth decay studies, including hundreds on fluoride, scientifically invalid. Even UNICEF, the organization that protects children, reports that “more and more scientists are now seriously questioning the benefits of fluoride, even in small amounts.”

New research proves old-time dentists’ premises were wrong. Fluoride’s possible benefits, if any, are only topical. So there’s no good reason to swallow fluoride or put it into the water supply. Fluoride in concentrated doses is highly toxic. In fact, before fluoride was deemed a “cavity fighter,” it was used as insecticide and rat poison. When it comes to dental hygiene, fluoride actually does more harm than good.

In tests on laboratory animals, fluoride has been shown to enhance the brain’s absorption of aluminum (the substance that’s found in the brains of most Alzheimer’s patients). Three different osteoporosis studies have associated hip fractures with fluoridation. And excessive fluoride has been shown to damage the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, leading to limited joint mobility, ligament calcification, muscular degeneration and neurological deficits.

In a dramatic turnaround, the nation’s leading fluoride advocate, the American Dental Association (ADA), issued an alert on Nov. 9, 2006, urging parents to avoid fluoridated water when reconstituting infant formula, warning that “Infants less than one year old may be getting more than the optimal amount of fluoride if their primary source of nutrition is powdered or liquid infant formula mixed with water containing fluoride.”

So what to do? There is no denying that dental health is enormously important. It affects not just what goes on in your mouth, but the health of your whole body. Poor dental hygiene is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, for example. It’s also fair to say that government health departments and dental associations, supported by a powerful chemical industry, continue to be staunch supporters of fluoride and water fluoridation and that there is a huge gap between the views of environmental and health campaigners on that.

If you want to keep using fluoride toothpaste, consider using less. It’s more economical and gets the job done just as well. Adults only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush to do the job and children really only need a smear. If you are alarmed by the data suggesting that fluoride is a systemic poison, then the best advice is to switch to a non-fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes. Thankfully, there are now many brands available.

It’s also worth reading more for yourself about fluoride products and fluoridation. If you want to know how much fluoride is in the water in your area, many resources are available. You can also find a list of Maine communities with fluoridated water supplies at www.maine.gov.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to filter fluoride out of your tap water unless you have an expensive (and water wasteful) reverse osmosis filtering system. Your best bet is to avoid added medicinal fluoride in your daily routine. An organic diet will also help eliminate pesticides residues which may also contain fluoride.

Dr. Daniel Parenteau is a freelance writer residing in Biddeford. He is a business analyst and strategic consultant. His column appears every other week and covers a wide variety of topical issues at issue in the region. Find his blog at www.danielparenteau.com.

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