Is fluoride poisonous?

A lovely patient of ours recently sent me an article written by an anti-fluoride body blaming fluoridated water for a vast range of serious health issues. Anti-fluoride bodies are not new and the issue of fluoridation has been heavily debated for decades.

Fluoride is a naturally existing element. It is on the periodic table. Many water sources in the world are naturally fluoridated. Some parts of the world have very high levels of fluoride in their water. Some of these places include large parts of Africa, China, the Middle East and southern Asia (India, Sri Lanka). It is true that high levels of fluoride ingested during teeth formative years leads to a condition called dental fluorosis. When mild, dental fluorosis has no major side effects and can even make teeth look whiter! However severe dental fluorosis leads to weak, chalky, yellow, pitted enamel which is aesthetically displeasing and is more likely to decay and break down. This can occur not only in areas of high natural water fluoridation but also with irresponsible use of fluoridated toothpaste in children. (please supervise children – ensuring they only have a pea sized smear of low dose fluoride until age 6)

The level of fluoride that we have in Australian tap water is 1ppm (1/1000th of the concentration of grown up toothpaste). Not all parts of Australia are fluoridated. Some areas close to Ballarat that remain unfluoridated include Daylesford, Ararat, Maryborough and Stawell. Ballarat was fluoridated at the end of 2009.

Unfortunately because I am not a medical doctor I am not able to comment on whether fluoride is related to various medical conditions (eg. cancer, autism, ADHD etc)  However, water fluoridation is by no means a new topic. (In Australia, Tasmania was the first to receive fluoridated water in 1953). There is no recognised body who disagrees on the efficacy of water fluoridation and its benefit on decay prevention. Nor is there a recognised body who believes fluoride poses a serious health risk of any sort.

Here is a list of some well known health organisations who have ruled out a health concern with fluoride.

The Australian Dental Association, The World Health Organisation (WHO), International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), US Public Health Service, The National Research Council (NRC), National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, the American Dental Association.

The ADA and WHO state that water fluoridation is the single most important intervention to reduce dental caries (decay).

What this means for us?

Enjoy your tap water  Try to avoid primarily drinking mineral water (eg. pump, mount franklin) as these water sources do not contain fluoride. Avoid using an ionic water filter which may remove the fluoride from your water source. Speak to your dentist if you live in an area without town water or in a known area without water fluoridation.

Hope this post has been helpful 

Dr. Jess BDSc. (The University of Melbourne.) (Honours.)

Oak Tree Ballarat Dental