The secret to healthy teeth and bones is NOT fluoride

lemon water

Optimal pH is the key to good health. Squeezing fresh lemon into your water can naturally increase its pH level.

A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. admitted there was too much fluoride in water, resulting in an increase in cases of mild dental fluorosis among children. Days later, an editorial in the Washington Post examined the risk of cavities from drinking filtered and bottled water that doesn’t contain fluoride. With all of this confusion, it’s hard to determine the best way to ensure healthy teeth and bones for all. While reading the Washington Post article, I couldn’t help but think it was a little biased. After all, the writer expresses that her concerns over drinking filtered water arrived while she was visiting her dentist who told her about the supposed dangers of not drinking fluoridated water. Well, of course your dentist is going to tell you that fluoride is necessary and good for you.  One writer, in response to this article, suggested that it “comes off as an ADA propaganda piece,” and I would have to agree. But if fluoride is not the solution to cavities, then what is?

Two interesting responses to this article came up in my e-mail feeds last week, and though the fluoride debate has, perhaps, been beaten to death, I thought the implications from both of them seemed worthy of sharing. One of the responses came from Xenophilia, “a science, technology, politics, arts and strange events news blog” serving over 1.5 million readers. Xeno argues that the lack of fluoride is not what causes cavities. Rather, it is the American diet which promotes the intake of sugars and simple carbohydrates. These sugars support the growth of certain species of bacteria that make acid. It is acid that breaks down enamel and leads to cavities and gum disease. The solution is restoring the natural balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the mouth – a.k.a. probiotics. Probiotics have had gastrointestinal applications for years, but they are now breaking into the oral market with toothpastes, mints and oral care products that contain ProBiora3, a natural ingredient that promotes the balance of good and bad bacteria in the mouth. The takeaway? Harmful bacteria produces lactic acid, which breaks down tooth enamel. The key to good dental health is promoting a non-acidic environment…

Which leads me to the next response to the Washington Post article, released by PR Newswire. Evamor, a bottled alkaline water manufacturer educates consumers on the dental benefits of alkaline water. Alkaline water has a non-acidic pH of 8 or higher. Once again, we see a common theme: cavity-causing bacteria create acidic environments, so exposing your teeth and gums to water that has a basic pH will neutralize the acid in the mouth that causes cavities. While we don’t normally promote bottled water, the piece states: “With a pH level at 8.8, Evamor also aids in combating excess acids introduced by the modern diet loaded with sugars, preservatives and fats.” Alkaline water has been said to promote overall bodily health, in addition to supporting the growth of strong teeth and bones. It is fluoride-free, but who needs fluoride, when you can beat cavities the natural way, and NOT run the risk of fluorosis. A healthy diet, rich in foods that promote a basic pH, combined with the moderate consumption of alkaline water, to keep your overall body pH at a healthy level (between 7.2 and 7.6, is optimal, if I’m not mistaken), is the key to preventing cavities, fluorosis, and many other diseases.

It’s worth trying out, at least…

We are not saying you should go buy a case of Evamor tomorrow. Quite the contrary. There are better solutions than further contributing to the plastic bottle waste on this planet. The first step is to test your water’s pH to find out where you are on the spectrum. Then you may want to consider some natural options for bringing your water’s alkalinity to the optimal level that don’t require you to spend thousands a year on plastic bottled water. Several sources state that adding a small amount of baking soda or fresh lemon to your water can increase its alkalinity. (Make sure you test the pH of the water again, before drinking it, however, to make sure you are adding the right amount.) If you’re going for alkaline water that is fluoride-free, consider filtering it through a reverse osmosis filter, before adding lemon or baking soda. Alternatively, you may choose to invest in a water ionizer system; however these are very expensive. Reverse osmosis filtered water with lemon, combined with a healthy diet, rich in foods that promote alkalinity, seems like the least expensive, and best way to get alkaline water that is fluoride-free.

U.S. finally admits there is too much fluoride in water

Mild dental fluorosis

Excessive fluoride consumption may lead to dental fluorosis – a condition characterized by splotchy teeth.

Water fluoridation – once considered one of the 20th century’s greatest accomplishments in public health – is now admitted to be a cause for concern by U.S. government officials, dentists and scientific researchers, alike.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced, last Friday, plans to lower the amount of fluoride in drinking water after recent scientific research revealed an increase in levels of fluorosis in young children. Fluorosis is a condition characterized by tooth streaking or spottiness due to excessive fluoride consumption; in most cases it is mild and hardly noticeable, and poses little cause for concern, but in extreme cases, teeth may actually be pitted by the mineral. While fluoride has been found to reduce the risk of cavities, too much of it can lead to dental fluorosis, or worse, skeletal fluorosis, a condition characterized by brittle bones, increased bone fractures and crippling bone defects. (For more information on the water fluoridation controversy, see our most recent article, “All About Water Fluoridation” – a comprehensive collection of educational resources centered on the issue of fluoride in drinking water.)

Fluoride ingestion also occurs when toothpaste is swallowed. Though most children swallow minimal amounts while brushing, over time it adds up. Fluoride may also be found naturally in certain foods. Health officials are finally recognizing that the mineral is more accessible now than it was when water fluoridation first began; adding it to municipal drinking water supplies, therefore, may  not be as necessary as was once thought. Fluoride is now being called “too much of a good thing.” (You know the saying… “everything in moderation… even moderation.”)

The standard amount for fluoride in drinking water, since 1962, has been a range of 0.7 ppm in warmer climates to 1.2 ppm in colder climates where less water is consumed. The new standard would be set at 0.7 ppm regardless of climate. The maximum allowable amount of fluoride is currently 4 ppm. The EPA is reviewing whether to lower this number; however, opponents of fluoridation claim that even 2 ppm is too much.

While water fluoridation may have been a success in the 20th century, the 21st century may soon announce a new victory – the reduction of fluoride in municipal drinking water – a policy that will enable us to live longer, healthier lives; and when we finally do see our graves – an inevitable fate caused by none other than old age – we will do so while flashing a healthy, white, unspotted toothy smile.

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