|Fluoride in the Fountain
By Darrel Crain, DC
Fluoride enthusiasts are having their way here in California, having succeeded in prying open the valve that controls additives to municipal water. Fluoride has the distinction of being the only chemical (so far) to be added to public water for the purpose of treating the person, rather than treating the water.
California's law stipulates that all municipal water shall soon contain a form of fluoride, a tasteless and colorless "co-product" of the phosphate fertilizer industry, mostly hydrofluosilicic acid and a couple of its chemical cousins.
Some may argue a "co-product" is a pleasant euphemism dreamed up by our thoughtful leaders at the CDC (Centers for and Disease Control) for use in polite conversation. The actual meaning of co-product in this context is "a fluorine gas-containing hazardous industrial waste more toxic than lead that would be hideously expensive to dispose of properly, but instead gets sold to cities to dump into the public water supply."
Contrary to repeated rejection of fluoridation by voters in various cities around the state, California legislators joined the dentists and climbed on board the fluoride bandwagon a few years ago. It wasn't long before they wrote a law requiring municipalities throughout the state to begin pouring fluoride into the water as soon as possible so that people can shower, wash their clothes, water the lawn, wash the car, fill the pool, wash the dog, cook, drink and brush their teeth using special water designed to fight cavities.
Some readers may construe these words as an unscientific rant from one of those cranky anti-fluoride tree-hugging granola-munching back-to-nature wackos who doesn't care if children in the inner cities get rotten teeth or not. I hasten to point out that I am not cranky. And besides, the comments in this essay are easily verified in the published literature.
First off, there is no such thing as a fluoride deficiency disease that we can conveniently blame for causing bad teeth. Fluoride is not now, nor has it ever been, a nutrient. Not one single metabolic or biological function of the human body at any time has ever required any form of fluorine in any amount to do its job correctly. Kids with bad teeth are lacking either proper nutrition or proper dental hygiene, or both.
For the record, let's verify this point of view with the Supreme and Undisputed Authority on human physiology, Guyton's Textbook of Medical Physiology (Ninth Edition). "Fluorine does not seem to be a necessary element for metabolism. Fluorine does not make the teeth themselves stronger but has a poorly understood effect in suppressing the cariogenic process." What Dr. Guyton is telling us is that fluoride can help reduce tooth decay but we are uncertain as to how or why this is so.
A concise pro-fluoridation statement appears on the CDC website (Centers for Disease Control) as follows, "The health effects of fluoride have been analyzed by numerous studies and reviewed repeatedly by expert scientific groups over the past 60 years, and water fluoridation at optimal levels for oral health benefits has been found to be safe and effective in reducing tooth decay."
Sounds like a rather airtight case, we might even be tempted to say "watertight." And yet that same governmental agency in March of 2007 updated the rate of dental fluorosis among U.S. schoolchildren at a conference for the International Association of Dental Research. The CDC reported that 41 percent of U.S. children ages 12-15 have visible signs of fluorosis, while 36 percent of children ages 16-19 are shown to have fluorosis.
Dental fluorosis is a disorder of the teeth characterized by white-spots, yellow or brown stains and/or pits in the tooth surface. According to Taber's Medical Dictionary fluorosis is caused by "chronic fluorine poisoning" typically from ingestion of "too much fluoride in drinking water."
This raises an important question. If we know that more than a third of the kids in this country are already getting enough fluoride in their bodies to disfigure their teeth from the foods they eat and beverages they drink, shouldn't we be trying to reduce fluoride exposure rather than add more fluoride to the water?
"For governmental and other organizations to continue to push for more exposure in the face of current levels of over-exposure coupled with an increasing crescendo of adverse toxicity findings is irrational and irresponsible at best," according to scientists at the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The stated purpose for adding fluoride to the water has always been to reduce tooth decay. Isn't it interesting that fluoride provides zero benefit in preventing "pit and fissure tooth decay," which accounts for 85 percent of the tooth decay children experience. That means under the best of circumstances fluoride can only impact 15 percent of kids' cavities.
In the largest survey ever conducted in the U.S. comparing the dental health of children in fluoridated versus non-fluoridated communities, only a tiny difference in tooth decay could be detected. The difference was not clinically significant nor shown to be statistically significant, according to authors J.A. Brunelle and J.P. Carlos, reporting in the Journal of Dental Research in 1990.
J. William Hirzy, Ph.D. is a spokesperson for the union that "represents, and is comprised of, the scientists, lawyers, engineers and other professionals at the headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency" in Washington, D.C. Hirzy writes in a letter to a constituent:
"Our members review of the body of evidence over the last eleven years, including animal and human epidemiology studies, indicate a causal link between fluoride/fluoridation and cancer, genetic damage, neurological impairment and bone pathology. Of particular concern are recent epidemiology studies linking fluoride exposures to lower I.Q. in children."
Apparently our leaders at the CDC believe that the risk of cancer, genetic damage and even lower I.Q. are outweighed by the benefit of preventing a few cavities. Then again, maybe CDC scientists are keeping their heads in the sand for other reasons. If our government were to admit that fluoridating public water for six decades has been a terrible mistake, there could be some serious liability issues to deal with.
But back to the water. I'm wondering if dentists realize the enormous historic precedent they have set through successfully getting drugs into the water supply. Dentists have effectively dispensed with the need for the expensive and time consuming medical tradition of examining an individual patient before prescribing a specific dose of a specific drug and then following the patient's progress as normal good doctoring. The floodgates are surely swinging open wide to begin delivering a whole range of other drugs in the water.
Disruptive kid in the classroom? The teacher can just sit the kid down with a glass of tap water with a dose of amphetamines already in it. Everyone gets depressed now and then, right? Don't worry, be happy, drink your drugs from your water glass. Mandatory vaccines for childhood infectious diseases? Hey, put them in the water. No record-keeping hassles, no problems at all, just line the kids up at the drinking fountain at the beginning of each year.
The possibilities are endless. The dentists have ushered in a whole new era allowing us to fight everything from dental illness to mental illness, and all we need is a good stiff drink of tap water.
If this sounds crazy to you, thank goodness. Our health leaders ought to consider these words from Peter Mansfield, M.D., a British physician and government advisory board member who reviewed the idea of public water fluoridation for that country:
"No physician in his right senses would prescribe for a person he has never met, whose medical history he does not know, a substance which is intended to create bodily change, with the advice: 'Take as much as you like, but you will take it for the rest of your life because some children suffer from tooth decay.' It is a preposterous notion."
Despite pressure from dentists, 99 percent of western continental Europe has rejected, banned, or stopped fluoridation due to environmental, health, legal, or ethical concerns. Perhaps it is time to just say no to fluoridation in the United States.
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Dr. Darrel Crain is a chiropractor, practicing in Alpine, California