Clean drinking water is crucial for human and animal health. Many things are done to our water in order to disinfect it and make it “safe” for consumption. Fluoridation is not one of those things. Fluoride is added to the drinking water in many cities under the pretense of helping to lower the risk of developing dental caries; caries, such as tooth decay, cavities, another term for the bacterial breakdown of the teeth. There is a large amount of evidence to support the use of fluoridated toothpaste in preventing dental caries(1,2). However, two recent systematic reviews have reiterated the lack of support for fluorinated water aiding in the same prevention(1,2).
In a December 2016 article from the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, a team of Italian researchers reports that “fluoridated water [does] not seem, based on the existing literature, to hold sufficient evidence for the reduction of dental caries(1).” An additional analysis of thirty systematic reviews on tooth decay from 2002-2015 reported the same conclusions.
The idea of fluoridation is based on human experimental studies from the 1940’s. There are many errors and omission contained within these studies including control biases, variances in sample sizes, and inconsistent selection of controls, which were pointed out, but ignored in 1959 by dental researcher Phillip Sutton(3). Others have also mimicked these claims. Part of the issue is that the fluoride in water doesn’t stay on the tooth long enough to have the same type of topical effect as toothpaste. The Center for Disease Control maintains that the only benefit from fluoride is when it is used topically.
Fluoride is suspected to be related to a host of health-related issues when it is ingested into the body. Some of these include neuroendocrine problems, musculoskeletal complaints and lowered immune function. It may be beneficial to search out methods for filtering out fluoride from drinking water and not drinking tap water in cities which fluoridate. Filtration systems which remove fluoride include: reverse osmosis, deionizers (which use ion-exchange resins), and activated alumina. Activated carbon filters (e.g., Brita & Pur) do not remove fluoride.
Of the largest 50 cities in America only 6 do not fluoridate: Tucson, AZ; Wichita, KS; Fresno, CA; Albuquerque, NM; Portland, OR; San Jose, CA.
- Sicca C, et al. Prevention of dental caries: A review of effective treatments.J Clin Exp Dent. 2016 Dec 1;8(5):e604-e610. eCollection 2016.
- Mejàre IA, Klingberg G, Mowafi FK, Stecksén-Blicks C, Twetman SHA, Tranæus SH (2015) A Systematic Map of Systematic Reviews in Pediatric Dentistry—What Do We Really Know? PLoS ONE 10(2): e0117537. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117537
- Sutton, Philip RN. Fluoridation: Errors and Omissions in Experimental Trials. Melbourne University Press. 1960.
- Fluoride Action Network, National Research Council Findings 2006
Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth-year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.