ADA’s Fluoridation Facts Short Answer
Fluoride, at the concentrations found optimally fluoridated water, is not toxic according to generally accepted scientific knowledge.
ADA’s Fluoridation Facts Long Answer
Like many common substances essential to life and good health — salt, iron, vitamins A and D, chlorine, oxygen and even water itself — fluoride can be toxic in excessive quantities. Fluoride in the much lower concentrations (0.7 to 1.2 ppm) used in water fluoridation is not harmful or toxic.
Acute fluoride toxicity occurring from the ingestion of optimally fluoridated water is impossible.104 The amount of fluoride necessary to cause death for a human adult (155 pound man) has been estimated to be 5-10 grams of sodium fluoride, ingested at one time.140 This is more than 10,000-20,000 times as much fluoride as is consumed at one time in a single 8-ounce glass of optimally fluoridated water.
Chronic fluoride toxicity may develop after 10 or more years of exposure to very high levels of fluoride, levels not associated with fluoride intake in drinking optimally fluoridated water. The primary functional adverse effect associated with long term excess fluoride intake is skeletal fluorosis. The development of skeletal fluorosis and its severity is directly related to the level and duration of fluoride exposure. For example, the ingestion of water naturally fluoridated at approximately 5 ppm for 10 years or more is needed to produce clinical signs of osteosclerosis, a mild form of skeletal fluorosis, in the general population. In areas naturally fluoridated at 5 ppm, daily fluoride intake of 10 mg/day would not be uncommon.74 A survey of X-rays from 170,000 people in Texas and Oklahoma whose drinking water had naturally occurring fluoride levels of 4 to 8 ppm revealed only 23 cases of osteosclerosis and no cases of skeletal fluorosis.141 Evidence of advanced skeletal fluorosis, or crippling skeletal fluorosis, “was not seen in communities in the United States where water supplies contained up to 20 ppm (natural levels of fluoride).”74, 121 In these communities, daily fluoride intake of 20mg/day would not be uncommon.74 Crippling skeletal fluorosis is extremely rare in the United States and is not associated with optimally fluoridated water; only 5 cases have been confirmed during the last 35 years.74
Additional discussion on this topic may be found in Question 16 and Question 32.
The possibility of adverse health effects from continuous low level consumption of fluoride over long periods has been extensively studied. As with other nutrients, fluoride is safe and effective when used and consumed properly. No charge against the benefits and safety of fluoridation has ever been substantiated by generally accepted scientific knowledge. After 50 years of research and practical experience, the preponderance of scientific evidence indicates that fluoridation of community water supplies is both safe and effective.98
At one time, high concentrations of fluoride compounds were used in insecticides and rodenticides.27 Today fluoride compounds are rarely used in pesticides because more effective compounds have been developed.104 While large doses of fluoride may be toxic, it is important to recognize the difference in the effect of a massive dose of an extremely high level of fluoride versus the recommended amount of fluoride found in optimally fluoridated water. The implication that fluorides in large doses and in trace amounts have the same effect is completely unfounded. Many substances in widespread use are very beneficial in small amounts, but may be harmful in large doses – such as salt, chlorine and even water itself.
Repeat of Question 21.
Is fluoride, as provided by community water fluoridation, a toxic substance?
Yes. “It is now clear that fluoride is a potentially harmful substance when present in the water supply in any amount. Those who want their children to have fluoride can give it individually, in measured doses, and more safely, reliably and cheaply than when put in the water. We can see no justifiable reason why everyone in the city should be needlessly subjected to any degree of life-long risk such as is created when a known poison is added to the water. We can accept no compromise with the established principle that the city’s water supply must be kept as safe as possible for everyone.” (Dr. Simon Beisler, Chief of Urology, Roosevelt Hospital, New York City, Dr. Fred Squier Dunn, Head of Oral Surgery Department, Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC, Dr. John Garlock, Consulting Surgeon, Mount Sinai Hospital, NYC, Dr. Edgar A. Lawrence, Director of Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC. and Dr. Girard F. Oberrender, Director of Otalaryngology at Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC.)
“It is well documented in the scientific literature that the substance sodium fluoride (used in fluoridation) has an effect on the metabolic cycle, from which we get the energy to maintain the life process and repairs to the body. The amount of the dosage has very little to do with the question because it is a ‘cumulative material’ — that is, it collects in the body — its effect would vary from person to person.” (Professor J. Earle Galloway, Drake University, Bio-Chemist and Chairman, Dept. of Pharmacology, Des Moines, IA.)
Dr. L. O. Maynard, Cornell University, authority on the role of minerals in nutrition, states: “There is no proof that fluoride is a dietary essential.”
“Fluorine has never been proved to be an indispensable chemical element for the maintenance of healthy body and healthy teeth. There is no disagreement about the fact that fluorine is a protoplasmic and enzymatic poison.” (Dr. V. O. Hurme, former director of Clinical Research, Forsyth Dental Infirmary for Children, Boston, MA.)