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  • Why is fluoride added to water?
    Fluoride is added to water to prevent cavities (tooth decay), a disease that is not waterborne. However, fluoride should be applied topically to teeth, such as fluoridated toothpaste, rather than forced through tap water on adults, children, and infants
  • What makes fluoride different from other water treatment chemicals?
    All water treatment chemicals except fluoride are added to make drinking water safe and pleasant to drink. Fluoride is the only chemical added to "treat people" consuming the water, rather than the water itself. Water fluoridation can be described as a form of mass medication, which is why most European countries have rejected this practice.
  • Do we need fluoride?
    No. It is now well established that fluoride is not an essential nutrient. This means that no human disease – including tooth decay – will result from fluoride “deficiency”. Fluoridation of tap water is therefore different from adding iodine to salt. Unlike fluoride, iodine is an essential nutrient. Iodine is involved in metabolism, moving cellular secretions from inside cells to the outside. Iodine is also involved in the frontline immune response, energy production, fetal and early childhood cognitive development, and hormone production, as well as in the detoxification of heavy metals, halogens, radiation and much more. No such need exists for fluoride. In fact, fluoride will displace iodine on cell receptors, creating an iodine deficiency.
  • Is fluoride naturally present in water?
    Typically, the only fresh water with high levels of fluoride (other than water polluted by fluoride-emitting industries) is water from deep wells. Rather than being something to celebrate, high levels of naturally occurring fluorides have wreaked havoc on the health of tens of millions of people around the world. People consuming water containing naturally high levels of fluoride have been found to suffer from serious health problems, including disfiguring tooth damage, bone disease, ulcers, reduced IQ, thyroid disease and infertility. For this reason, international organizations like UNICEF are helping developing countries find ways to remove fluoride from their water. Fortunately, most freshwater sources contain very low levels of fluoride. The average level of fluoride in unpolluted fresh water is less than 0.1 ppm, which is about 7 times lower than the levels added to water in Canadian fluoridation programs (0.7 mg/L). The frequent assertion, therefore, that “nature thought of fluoridation first” does not stand up to scrutiny.
  • Where does the fluoride added to the water come from?
    The main chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water are called “silicofluorides” (ie hydrofluorosilicic acid and sodium fluorosilicate). Silicofluorides are not pharmaceutical grade fluorinated products; they are unprocessed industrial by-products of the phosphate fertilizer industry. Since these silicofluorides do not undergo any purification procedures, they can contain high levels of arsenic, more than any other water treatment chemical. Additionally, recent research suggests that adding silicofluorides to water is a risk factor for elevated lead exposure, especially among residents who live in homes with old plumbing.
  • Does fluoridated water reduce tooth decay?
    If water fluoridation has any benefit, it is minimal. Recent large-scale studies in the United States have found little real or statistical difference in rates of tooth decay in children living in fluoridated areas compared to non-fluoridated areas. Additionally, data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that tooth decay rates have declined just as rapidly in non-fluoridated Western countries as in fluoridated Western countries.
  • Should fluoride be swallowed to prevent tooth decay?
    No. Although water fluoridation was initially endorsed on the premise that ingesting fluoride is the most effective way to strengthen teeth, most dental researchers now agree that the primary benefit of fluoride comes from topical contact directly with the teeth, not from ingestion. You don't have to swallow fluoride to prevent tooth decay, whether it's in the form of water or tablets. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this point in the fluoride debate, especially when one considers that the risks of fluoride come primarily from ingestion.
  • Are there any risks in swallowing fluoride?
    Fluoride has long been known to be a very toxic substance. This is why, like arsenic, fluoride has been used in pesticides and rodenticides (to kill rats, insects, etc.). It's also why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that all fluoride toothpaste sold in the United States carry a poison warning that instructs users to contact the poison control center if they swallow more than should be used for brushing. Excessive fluoride exposure is well known to cause painful bone disease (skeletal fluorosis), as well as tooth discoloration known as dental fluorosis. Excessive fluoride exposure has also been linked to a range of other chronic diseases, including arthritis, brittle bones, glucose intolerance, gastrointestinal disorders, thyroid disease and possibly heart disease and certain types of cancer. Although the lowest doses that cause some of these effects are not yet well defined, it is clear that certain subgroups of the population are particularly vulnerable to fluoride toxicity. Populations that have an increased sensitivity to fluoride include infants, people with kidney disease, people with nutritional deficiencies (particularly of calcium and iodine), and people with medical conditions that cause excessive thirst.
  • How do I avoid fluoride in my tap water?
    If you live in a community that fluoridates its water supply, there are several options to avoid drinking the fluoride that is added. Unfortunately, each of these options will cost money (unless you have access to a free source of spring water). Options include: Spring water: Most spring water contains very low levels of fluoride (usually less than 0.1 ppm). Water Filtration: Water filters that remove fluoride include: reverse osmosis, deionizers that use an ion exchange resin, and activated alumina. Cheaper water filters (eg Brita) use an "activated carbon" filter which does NOT remove fluoride. Water Distillation: Water distillation is an effective way to remove fluoride from water. Water distillation units are available in different sizes, including a smaller countertop version.
  • My child has dental fluorosis. What can I do to fix it?
    The tooth discoloration that fluorosis causes can be reduced and sometimes eliminated by relatively expensive cosmetic treatments. Treatment options for fluorosis, however, will depend on the severity of the fluorosis.
  • If our water does not contain fluoride, should we give our child fluoride supplements?
    Supplements were developed on the mistaken assumption that fluoride is a nutrient and is effective when swallowed. Modern research has found that fluoride supplements greatly increase the risk of dental fluorosis and do little if anything to reduce tooth decay. Most Western countries have consequently begun to eliminate the use of fluoride supplements and even the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends them only for children who are at particularly high risk of tooth decay.
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