Pros and Cons of Fluoride

Water fluoridation is considered by many to be a pillar of public health. For several decades, fluoride has been added to water in efforts to prevent tooth decay. This in many areas is accepted as fact, and to not fluoridate water would be an obstruction to public health. However, many are rethinking the safety and success of such measures. Perhaps before any definite decisions are made regarding fluoride, we should investigate what pros and cons exist with water fluoridation.

Fluoridation to water is regarded as a simple measure to improve public health. It is thought that adding fluoride helps strengthen the enamel of teeth, preventing decay, cavities and tooth loss. This measure was endorsed by the American Medical Association in 1951 and by the American Dental Association in 1953 [Source: Coffel]. Questions are now increasing in regards to the safety of such a program. Fluoride is generally assumed to protect tooth enamel. It may also increase bone density, but it does not decrease fracture risk [Source: Banting]. In fact, fluoride may actually weaken the bones [Source: Limeback, Phipps]. Fluoride is also known to cause a cosmetically damaging effect called fluorosis, a staining of the teeth that experts say does not attribute to any physical problems. The National Institutes of Mental Health did suggest that fluoride damaged teeth may cause psychological and behavioral problems [Source: Coffel]. This problem has a significantly higher rate of occurrence if fluoride supplements are used in the first six months of life [Source: Pendrys]. Fluoride may affect dietary allergies and protein digestion and intolerance [Source: Butler]. Fluoride has also been linked to symptoms of stomach pain and indigestion [Source: Gupta]. Unfortunately, this means that many people may be experiencing digestive problems due to fluoride and have no idea what the problem is. This leads to further medication and doctor visits to treat symptoms while the underlying problem persists. Fluoride may also damage joints, connective tissue, the brain and the testicles [Source: Navak, Giachini].

On the next page, learn about possible dangers of fluoridated water.