For the first time in more than 50 years our government is lowering the recommended amount of fluoride added to drinking water. Health officials announced some people are getting too much fluoride because it is also in toothpaste, mouthwash and other products. Too much fluoride has become a common cause of white splotches (fluorosis) on teeth in children. One study found about 2 out of 5 American adolescents had tooth streaking or spottiness.
But there’s a much bigger danger. Fluoride induces changes in the brain’s physical structure and biochemistry which affects the neurological and mental development of individuals including cognitive processes, such as learning and memory. “Prolonged ingestion of fluoride may cause significant damage to health and particularly to the nervous system,” concluded a review of studies by researchers Valdez-Jimenez, et al. published in Neurologia (June 2011).
A Harvard meta-analyses of 27 studies published over 22 years suggests an inverse association between high fluoride exposure and children’s intelligence. According to the Harvard researchers, children who lived in high-fluoride areas had “significantly lower IQ than those in low fluoride areas.”
Studies also suggest that kids with moderate and severe fluorosis score lower on measures of cognitive skills and IQ.
“Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain,” reported Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health.
A study published this year have suggested a link between fluoridation and ADHD. States with a higher portion of artificially fluoridated water had a higher prevalence of ADHD.
Animal studies in the 1990s by researcher Phyllis Mullenix, at the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Research Institute, showed that rats exposed to fluoride in the womb were much more likely to behave in a hyperactive manner later in life. She was fired and was told she was “jeopardizing the financial support” of her institution by suggesting fluoride is not safe.
The United States is one of only eight countries in the developed world that fluoridates more than 50 percent of its water supply. Most of the fluoride added to water supplies comes from a chemical called fluorosilicic acid, which is a byproduct of phosphate fertilizer manufacturing
“Fluoridation is against all principles of modern pharmacology. It’s really obsolete.” Swedish pharmacologist Arvid Carlsson, awarded the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his research in the field of neuropharmacology. He was among 600 scientists/physicians etc who signed a petition calling for Congress to stop water fluoridation. Other signees included Doug Everingham, former Federal Health Minister, Australia, and Dr. Magda Aelvoet, Former Minister of Public Health, Belgium.
In 1997 all fluoride toothpastes began carrying a warning – “Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center.”
Because they aren’t yet in control of their swallowing reflex, children 4 to 6 years old typically swallow toothpaste when brushing. A study at the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry: Half the children this age don’t spit out or rinse out — they swallow the toothpaste instead.
“The fluoride in toothpaste is considered a drug,” Regina Miskewitz, director of research and development Church & Dwight Co. Inc. “Even though it is an over-the-counter drug, we are altering the body when we brush our teeth with a fluoride toothpaste or tooth gel. As normal consumers, you’re not aware of these things.”
Research conducted by the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center concluded that brushing with more than a pea-size amount of toothpaste more than once daily contributed to most of the fluorosis cases it observed in young children. In areas where the drinking water contains fluoride, children who swallow even the pea-size amount of toothpaste are getting too much fluoride and are at risk for fluorosis.
Colgate-Palmolive now sells an un-fluoridated toothpaste for infants and toddlers. The label on the packaging states, “Fluoride-free. Safe if swallowed.”
Some elementary schools and Head Start programs in the US still hand out fluoride tablets to children.