*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
*Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, May 7, 2012*
Dispensing with Fluoride
Editorial by Andrew W. Saul
(OMNS May 7, 2012) As a child, there was nothing I liked about going to the
dental dispensary, with the possible exception of the large tropical fish
aquarium in the waiting room. This was a distraction to what was coming:
three hours in a vast hall containing a double line of black dental chairs
and a matching double line of white-clad dental students. And that, as a
six-year-old, is where I first met fluoride on a regular basis. After a
free cleaning and checkup (the reason my cost-conscious parents had me go
there, and the reason it literally took three hours to complete), fluoride
was applied to my teeth with a swab.
I remember both the smell (acrid) and
the taste (astringent). I actually looked forward to the fluoride
treatment, simply because it was the last thing they did to me before I was
allowed to leave. Did it work? Probably not. In addition to my regular
topical fluoride treatments, I lived in a city with fluoridated water and
was raised on fluoridated toothpaste. And I had a mouthful of amalgam by
Controversy? What Controversy?
In the late 1970s, as a young parent, I became aware of the National
Fluoridation News, published in the still largely unknown town of Gravette,
Arkansas (pop 2,200). For a very small donation, I received a boxful of
back issues by return mail. In addition to this generosity, what surprised
me about the NFNews was the high caliber of its content.
Most of the
non-editorial articles were well referenced and the work of well qualified
scientists. This was something of a poser, for as a college biology major,
I had been thoroughly schooled in the two Noble Truths of Fluoridation: 1)
that fluoride in drinking water would reduce tooth decay by 60-65% and 2)
that anyone who disagreed with this view was a fool. Yes, I had seen the
movie Dr. Strangelove, and yes, I knew how to read an ADA endorsement on a
Not long after this, my penchant for reading toothpaste labels paid off.
There it was, printed right on the back of the tube:
"Children should only use a 'pea-sized' portion of fluoride toothpaste when
I had two toddlers, and this caught my interest. Looking into it, I learned
that small children swallow a considerable quantity of toothpaste when they
brush, perhaps most of it.
Anyone who has watched television at all could not have failed to see
toothpaste ads. They always showed the brush loaded, with decorative
overhang tips flared out on each end. When "AIM" brand toothpaste first
came out, I distinctly remember toothpaste being displayed in two or even
three layers on the brush. The number of children that used the product so
generously, and swallowed half of it, will likely remain unknown. As for
me, I immediately switched my family to toothpaste with no fluoride in it.
As for toothpaste labels, they rather quickly were re-written. They now
"If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional
help or contact a poison control center immediately."
But all children swallow more than is used for brushing. The only question
is, how much? The US Centers for Disease Control states:
"Fluoride toothpaste contributes to the risk for enamel fluorosis because
the swallowing reflex of children aged less than 6 years is not always well
controlled, particularly among children aged less than 3 years. Children
are also known to swallow toothpaste deliberately when they like its taste.
A child-sized toothbrush covered with a full strip of toothpaste holds
approximately 0.75-1.0 g of toothpaste, and each gram of fluoride
toothpaste, as formulated in the United States, contains approximately 1.0
mg of fluoride. Children aged less than 6 years swallow a mean of 0.3 g of
toothpaste per brushing and can inadvertently swallow as much as 0.8 g."
[1, emphasis added]
For children age 6 and under, that is an average swallow of a third of the
toothpaste they use, and a possibility of inadvertently swallowing 80% or
more. There is about a milligram of fluoride in a single "serving" of
toothpaste. I am calling it a "serving" because fluoride in toothpaste is
regulated as if it were a food, not a drug. How is this true? Adding even
less than one milligram of fluoride to a single serving of children's
vitamins instantly makes them a prescription drug. It is truly odd that
fluoride toothpaste remains an over-the-counter product.
Into the Schools
When my children were in grade school, the local dental college (the people
who brought us the dispensary I went to as a young boy) interested our
school district in a research project. Our town's public water was under
local control and unfluoridated, unlike the city nearby. So the idea was to
administer fluoride rinses to schoolchildren, during the school day, and
then count caries. We were asked to sign a permission letter, which
emphasized likely benefits and glossed over any hazards.
youngsters did with sweet toothpaste, I made a guess that they'd swallow a
saccharin-laced rinse about as well. We chose to not sign. But I did check
the box to receive results of the study. It ultimately came in the form of
a letter, saying that the results were disappointingly inconclusive: no
evidence that fluoride rinses helped our unfluoridated-water-drinking
community. I am unaware that the study was published.
That is not especially surprising. Shutting out access to balanced
scientific discussion of fluoridation is alive and well. . . and taxpayer
supported. Negative fluoride studies and reviews are hardly abundant on
PubMed/Medline. One does not need to be a conspiracy theorist to observe
that the US National Library of Medicine refuses to index the journal
Fluoride.  Censorship is conspicuously aberrant behavior for any public
About 15 years ago, our town's public water supply was annexed by the
nearby metropolis. Aside from a rate increase, the only other, barely
detectable change to our bill was a one-time typed legend at the bottom of
it that fluoride has now been added to the water. There had been no vote,
and there had not even been any discussion. Communities coast-to-coast know
that this is not at all uncommon. Four glasses of fluoridated tap water
contain about as much fluoride as a prescription dose does. Not only is
fluoridated water nonprescription, it is even more certain to be swallowed
than toothpaste. Being over 6 years of age means better control over
swallowing reflexes, thus limiting ingestion of fluoride from toothpaste.
There is no such accommodation for drinking water.
Evidence-based medicine requires evidence before medicating. Fluoridation
of water is not evidence-based. It has not been tested in well-controlled
studies. Fluoridation of public water is a default medication, since you
have to deliberately avoid it if you do not want to take it. A person's
daily intake of fluoride simply from drinking an average quantity of
fluoridated tap water, fluoridated bottled water, and beverages produced or
prepared with fluoridated water can easily exceed the threshold for what
your druggist would rightly demand a prescription for. Fluoride in
toothpaste and mouth rinses also is medication. It may be intended as
topical, but the reality is different. No matter how it may be applied in
their mouths, young children are going to swallow it. Indeed, most of the
public and the dental profession already have.
1. Fluoride Recommendations Work Group. Recommendations for using fluoride
to prevent and control dental caries in the United States. CDC
Recommendations and Reports 2001;50(RR14):1-42.
If you want
access to what the US taxpayer-funded National Library of Medicine refuses
to index, you may read over 40 years' of articles from the journal
Fluoride, free of charge, at https://www.fluorideresearch.org/
to "Archives and Indexes,1968-2011."
Comment by Albert W. Burgstahler, PhD: Support for these views and
conclusions is found in a recent review in Critical Public Health
(2011:1-19) titled "Slaying sacred cows: is it time to pull the plug on
water fluoridation?" by Stephen Peckham of the Department of Health
Services Research and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine. In his article, Peckham concludes that evidence for the
effectiveness and safety of water fluoridation is seriously defective and
not in agreement with findings of a growing body of current and previously
overlooked research. For an abstract of this report, scroll down at:
This revised article originally appeared in Fluoride 2011, 44(4)188-190. It
is reprinted with kind permission of the International Society for Fluoride
Research Inc. www.fluorideresearch.org
Editorial Office: 727 Brighton Road, Ocean View, Dunedin 9035, New Zealand.