Time magazine for Valentine’s Day features an article about-surprise-the possible links between pollutants and brain function. Small wonder, given that many are neuro-toxins (have you ever seen the bugs lying on their back partially paralyzed but still alive?). Especially “shocking” was the factoid that exposure to fluoridated water, which does not include the additional exposure from toothpastes and dental rinses, is linked to a seven point drop in IQ. Continental Europe has banned it for years.
The history of fluoride development explains it pretty clearly: “Sodium monofluorophosphate was first described in 1929 by the German chemist Willy Lange, who was then with the University of Berlin. His fruitless attempts to prepare the free monofluorophosphoric acid led him to check the stability of its esters. Together with Gerda von Krueger, one of his students, Lange thus synthesized diethyl fluorophosphate and some analogs, which proved to be quite toxic, being related tonerve agents. In the 1930s, Gerhard Schrader, working for the German company IG Farben, tried to develop synthetic insecticide. His work focused on esters of phosphoric acid and resulted in an accidental discovery of some other nerve agents such as DFP (diisopropyl fluorophosphate), Tabun, Soman, and Sarin. In the meantime, Lange, who was married to a Jewish woman, emigrated from Germany to the United States and started work for Procter and Gamble Company. In 1947, he and Ralph Livingston of Monsanto Company published the preparation of the free fluorophosphoric acids and mentioned the use of some toxic esters of monofluorophosphoric acid (like DFP) in the treatment of glaucoma and myasthenia gravis. The well known toxicity of these esters led to fears that the simple salts might also be toxic, and such fears precluded any large scale commercial use of the salts. In 1950, under sponsorship of the manufacturer of the compounds, Ozark Chemical Company, the toxicity of sodium monofluorophosphate was studied by Harold Hodge at the University of Rochester who included anti-cavity testing. In 1967 Colgate-Palmolive filed several patents on the use of sodium monofluorophosphate in toothpaste.”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_monofluorophosphate, emphasis added). WebMD considers fluoride to be a drug, lists its cautions and potential side effects, and emphasizes that children may be more sensitive to the risks. One of those risks, ironically, is yellow teeth resulting from excessive use, which has happened to friend’s children who had used only fluoridated toothpaste twice a day with no additional treatments.
The premise for fluoride treatments has been that the fluoride “strengthens” tooth enamel, a claim that comes because enamel consists largely of apatite, a form of calcium, which degrades in the presence of acids from oral bacteria feeding on starches and sugars in our foods. HOWEVER, saliva provides the materials necessary for the re-forming of apatite! In other words, we are fixing a problem that we were designed to correct ourselves anyway. I have a mouth full of fillings but grew up religiously brushing with fluoride and was among an experimental group of military dependents who received fluoride treatments at school. (Maybe that’s why I developed osteoporosis so young!) My kids have not only never used a fluoridated toothpaste, but also drank only reverse-osmosis purified water so did not have fluoride in their water. Only one of my first three children ever developed a cavity. The youngest, who decided that tooth-brushing was optional during the teenage braces years, was the only one to have multiple cavities (he has also eaten more sugar than the other three combined, since his father considers it one of the primary food groups). Aside from a generally healthy diet, we don’t use sports drinks, dilute any fruit juice we drink, and rarely consume soda, which not only has the acid-forming sugars (artificial sweeteners are even more acidic, so one more reason not to use them) but phosphoric acid, which disintegrates calcium. If I really felt like I need more fluoride, I’d add black walnut to my diet!