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Is Fluoride Poison?

I was on Amazon the other day and I noticed that they were selling water filters that remove fluoride from drinking water. This, i thought was very unfortunate, but I know that misinformation is alive and well. Why would people disregard decades of scientific research and follow a feeling about something, or an opinion from a non-science source?

Fluoride has been proven to be a safe and effective way of preventing cavities. The remarkable decrease in cavities since community water fluoridation began in the 1950s is testimony to this. It is endorsed by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Assocation and the American Dental Association, among many others. There have been no scientifically credible studies that have proven any negative effects of fluoride at the recommended fluoride levels, as is done with community water fluoridation. 


The Center for Disease Control has ranked the fluoridation of public water as one of the top medical achievements of the 20th century. It is ranked No. 9 on this list ahead of "Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard."

The American Dental Association calls water fluoridation "unquestionably one of the safest and most beneficial, cost-effective public health measures for preventing, controlling, and in some cases reversing, tooth decay.” A study of medicaid recipients in Louisiana reported a $38 dollar healthcare savings for every $1 spent on fluoridation.

Health Canada supports fluoridation, citing a number of international scientific reviews that indicate "there is no link between any adverse health effects and exposure to fluoride in drinking water at levels that are below the maximum acceptable concentration of 1.5 mg/L."

And beside all of the research showing the benefits of fluoridated water on cavity reduction (~40%) a 2008 meta-analysis of published research on osteoporosis showed that it significantly increased bone mineral density and reduced fracture risk.

Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral found in water. It varies in concentration from area to area. When I was in dental school we would put on mobile dental clinics to treat under-served children. On one such trip to orphanages in Tijuana and Rosarito, Mexico, we examined probably 200 children finding only a couple of cavities for us students to fight over. What we saw were incredibly strong teeth that were really resistant to cavities. There is an abundance of naturally occurring fluoride in the drinking water and because of the heat, a lot of water is consumed.

But, I have heard from patients about their fears because they have heard that it is a poison, that it can cause this and that and therefore they keep fluoride from their families...out of love. But when those kids get cavities, and they do, and usually lots of them, who have they protected? 

Yes, if you ingest too much fluoride you may throw up, especially if you have an empty stomach. That doesn’t prove that small amounts are bad for you. As a vegetarian, I had not eaten meat for decades, then I accidentally had meat and felt sick to my stomach. That does not prove that eating meat is poisoning you. (or does it? :) It means that my stomach wasn’t ready for it.

There really is no conspiracy here, but it does show that we as human beings sometimes make our health choices irrationally, relying on our friends and our guts rather than on science and doctors. We here at Camarillo Smiles rely on science to guide our decision making and rest assured, what we recommend for our patients is what we are doing for our own families.