First the background, then the news.
When I first heard about fluoridation of drinking water, probably as a teenager in the 1960’s, the only opponents were the John Birch Society members who saw fluoride as a government plot, and I assumed fluoride was safe because doctors and dentists recommended it. I know now, after my own investigation, that it’s a potentially toxic substance and only one of many methods to strengthen tooth enamel.
I know that fluoride works topically, so that putting it in drinking water is like putting sunscreen in the water so you get it in your shower – it’s a hit or miss proposition and the internal absorption is not beneficial and is certainly possibly harmful, depending on the dose.
Internal dosages are much higher than one might expect because of the many confounding foods and beverages that contain fluoride, such as non-organic teas and most packaged foods. Pediatricians officially recommend against using fluoride containing water to reconstitute powdered formula, because of the possibility of overdosing infants. They might also mention that breast milk is a powerful means to grow healthy teeth.
Fluoride reduces the cavity incidence by a truly tiny amount in studied communities. Eating tooth-healthy foods, avoiding sugary drinks, and having some access to a dentist are all vastly more effective means of improving dental health.
Now the news: A study recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives compared IQ rates in communities with and without fluoride in their water. The fluoride swigging children had significantly lower IQ’s, leading them to conclude that there is a possibility of an adverse effect of high fluoride exposure on children’s neurodevelopment.
One less cavity is worth how many fewer IQ points?