The Case Against Fluoride

by Anna Selby

The Times Magazine, [UK] 4 May 2002

"I'm not content to accept it's just cosmetic. I suspect if fluoride can damage tooth enamel, the hardest material in a child's body at the time, it will be having an impact elsewhere."

"In the early Eighties, when both my children were very young, I heard a lot about fluoride preventing tooth decay. The area where we lived at the time wasn't fluoridated and so, being a conscientious parent, I decided to give them the fluoride drops recommended to protect their teeth."

It was a decision Dianne Standen came to regret. "Their baby teeth were fine but as their second teeth started to come through at six or seven, they were discoloured with yellow and white mottling and some pitting on the surface. When I took them to the dentist, I was told it was nothing -just cosmetic and not to worry about it. But, of course, if you look in any
way different, you can get teased at school and by the time Sky was 13, she was very unhappy about her teeth. So she went back to the dentist and had one particularly bad tooth veneered."

Varying Stages of Dental Fluorosis

It was at this point that Dianne learnt that her children were suffering from dental fluorosis, a condition that, according to dentist Tony Lees, is "the visible manifestation of systemic fluoride toxicity." The vast majority of dentists in the UK are pro-fluoride, believing it to be the best means of preventing tooth cavities but, after eight years of research, Lees has drawn different conclusions.

"Fluoride is everywhere and most people are taking in far more of it than they should. It's in fluoride toothpaste, rinse and floss. There are large amounts in tea, as well as other foods that take it up from the organo-fluorides used as fertilisers. But, worst of all, in some areas of the country it is added to the water so it is in the water you drink, cook in and bathe in. The Government's own assessment [The York Review, October 2000] found that, in fluoridated areas, 48 per cent of the population suffer from fluorosis - with 12 per cent of the cases being described as "aesthetically disturbing" - and with a reduction in dental caries on only 14.6 per cent."

Dianne Standen now lives in west Cumbria where the water is fluoridated. "I've noticed a lot of children around here with the same problem as Sky and Finn - but they've got it just from drinking the water. My children had comparatively mild cases of dental fluorosis, but is can be really unsightly and the teeth can become brown and very badly marked. I only gave
them fluoride drops for a short time but it was obviously at the time their second teeth were forming."

Dental fluorosis seems to affect the teeth before they have emerged. It is babies and young children who are most at risk, according to Professor Hardy Limeback, Professor of Dentistry at the University of Toronto. "Children under three should never use fluoridated toothpaste," he says. "Or drink fluoridated water. And baby formula should never be made up using

d water."

Standen's children have dealt with the problem in different ways. Sky's veneer has been replaced once and she has been told that it will need replacing every five to six years at a cost of 150. Her brother has so far done nothing. "He doesn't want to pay dental bills for the rest of his life," says Standen, "so his teeth have remained marked and pitted. The good news is that their teeth won't get any worse - all the damage is done when they're young. What really worries me now is that this isn't just

cosmetic, that there might be long-term damage we don't yet know about."

The anti-fluoride lobby believes that this damage could be extensive. "There has not been enough research yet," says Tony Lees, "but there's a lot of anecdotal evidence around. I've been looking at fluoride for years now and I believe it is systemic, affecting the bones at it does the teeth. Fluoride is the most reactive element imaginable. It is taken up by t

he enamel cells of the teeth as they are forming and it replaces calcium. It has been implicated in osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, and it also

displaces iodine in the body, affecting the thyroid gland. I think a lot of people with arthritis may actually be suffering from early symptoms of skeletal sclerosis as a result of drinking fluoridated water."

Other than expensive cosmetic dentistry, there is no cure for dental fluorosis. Now, however, Standen

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 is primarily concerned with the further possible health risks she believes may arise from living in an area with fluoridated water. "Well, the first thing is we don't drink the water," she says, with a laugh. "But that's a huge issue in itself - I don't want to drink bottled water, that is not only expensive and heavy to carry, it means I accumulate plastic bottles to overload the landfill.

"We don't use fluoridated toothpaste and we've also cut down on tea. In Asia, where it grows, fluoride occurs naturally at very high levels and so it's taken up by the crop. Drinking excessive amounts with fluoridated water is asking for trouble. When you cook vegetables in fluoridated water, they are absorbing it - but it's not only what you eat and drink. You can
inhale or absorb fluoride through the skin when you shower, too.

"I'm not content to accept it's just cosmetic. I suspect if fluoride can damage enamel, the hardest material in a child's body at the time, it will be having an impact elsewhere. And what the results will be of this slow accumulation, nobody yet knows." ends.

NOTE: Apart from the well documented physical damage which fluoride causes to thyroid function, teeth, bone and soft tissues, there is another adverse effect, well known to parents, which is routinely ignored by fluoride proponents, namely, the psychological impact on children with dental fluorosis. The following article is attracting growing interest from lawyers and psychologists around the world.


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