Fluoride is one of those known toxic chemicals which we are easily exposed to these days through the water we drink or the toothpaste we use to brush our teeth every morning.

Municipalities across America used to add fluoride to the water supply to reduce tooth decay. A practice which has come under the radar due to the numerous side-effects that fluoride exposure can produce. And, contrary to popular belief that it encourages oral health, fluoride, in fact, has no role to play in preventing the growth of harmful oral bacteria.[1]

The toxicity of fluoride can only be understood by the fact that it is the number one reason why poison control calls concerning fluoride are received for children who’ve eaten fluoride according to reports by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.[2,3]

Long-term exposure to fluoride can be harmful to the digestive system, heart, brain and even the bones (including the enamel).[4,5,6] Fluorosis, a chronic condition caused by excessive exposure to fluoride, can cause mottling of the teeth and in severe cases calcification of the ligaments.

Here are nine ways in which fluoride exposure can be risky for your health.

1) Harms The Thyroid
Fluoride and iodine belong to the same family of chemical compounds—halogens. While iodine is essential for the normal functioning of the thyroid, fluoride isn’t. Because of their similar chemical structures, the thyroid gland easily absorbs fluoride instead of iodine.

Fluoride also inhibits the functioning of the thyroid cells and might cause cell death.[7] For many years, fluoride was used to treat people with an overactive thyroid.[8]

2) Leads To Arthritis
Fluoride causes calcification of cartilage, the connective tissue between joints.[9] Fluorosis is linked to degenerative osteoarthritis.[10] In a clinical study done on people with fluorosis, knee conditions such as osteoarthritis occurred frequently.[11]

3) Triggers Early Puberty In Females
The pineal gland plays an important role in the onset of puberty. A study shows that girls living in areas with more fluoride exposure experience puberty much earlier that girls who don’t.[12]

4) Calcifies The Pineal Gland
The pineal gland helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles. Fluoride exposure leads to accumulation of fluoride in the pineal gland causing it to calcify. By the time an average individual reaches old age, the pineal gland would have a higher density of calcium than their bones.[13]

5) Damages The Kidney
A higher rate of chronic kidney disease is reported in places where the water contains high levels of fluoride.[14,15] Chinese researchers state that a fluoride level of 2mg/L can cause renal damage in children.[16] While water levels of fluoride are much lower, fluoride exposure continues through the regular use of fluoridated toothpaste.

6) Causes Infertility In Men & Women
There is a direct link between fluoridated drinking water and fertility rates. High fluoride levels are linked to lower fertility rates, especially where fluoride concentration is 3ppm (parts per million) in drinking water.[17]

Animal studies show that fluoride reduces reproductive hormones in females.[18] Men who suffer from fluorosis have low levels of testosterone and fertility than men with reduced fluoride exposure.[19]

7) Causes Skeletal Fluorosis
Skeletal fluorosis results from fluoride consumption. Being unable to process, fluoride passes into the bloodstream where it combines with calcium that has leeched from the bones. This weakens bones.

While this risk is known for many years, researchers haven’t established how much exposure can trigger skeletal fluorosis.[20,21,22] Chinese authorities have established a link between reductions in fluoride exposure and the incidence of fluorosis.[23]

8) Affects Heart Health
Research indicates that fluoride exposure can cause cardiovascular inflammation and atherosclerosis.[24,25]

9) Decreases Cognition & IQ
A study found that fluoride can negatively impact a child’s neural development.[26] Children living in highly fluoridated areas are at a five times greater risk of developing a low IQ compared to those who don’t.[27]

How Can You Reduce Your Exposure To Fluoride?

  • Using a non-fluoride toothpaste can decrease your immediate exposure to fluoride.
  • Use a reverse osmosis water purification system to avoid fluorosis.
  • Healthy iodine levels can protect the thyroid from the toxic effects of fluoride. The best natural source of iodine is seafood found in saltwater. Kelp, a seaweed, is also high in this mineral. Other good sources are shellfish such as shrimp and prawns.

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more about Diseases & Conditions here.

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1. Puciennik-Stronias M, Zarzycka B, Bo?tacz-Rzepkowska E. The effects of topical fluoridation of enamel on the growth of cariogenic bacteria contained in the dental plaque. Med Dosw Mikrobiol. 2013;65(2):129-32.

2. Shulman JD, Wells LM. Acute fluoride toxicity from ingesting home-use dental products in children, birth to 6 years of age. J Public Health Dent. 1997 Summer;57(3):150-8.

3. Whitford GM. Acute toxicity of ingested fluoride. Monogr Oral Sci. 2011;22:66-80. doi: 10.1159/000325146. Epub 2011 Jun 23.

4. C. J. Spak, S. Sjöstedt, L. Eleborg, B. Veress, L. Perbeck, and J. Ekstrand. Tissue response of gastric mucosa after ingestion of fluoride. BMJ. 1989 June 24; 298(6689): 1686–1687.

5. Sauerheber R. Physiologic conditions affect toxicity of ingested industrial fluoride. J Environ Public Health. 2013;2013:439490. doi: 10.1155/2013/439490. Epub 2013 Jun 6.

6. Perumal E, Paul V, Govindarajan V, Panneerselvam L. A brief review on experimental fluorosis. Toxicol Lett. 2013 Nov 25;223(2):236-51. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2013.09.005. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

7. Zeng Q, Cui YS, Zhang L, Fu G, Hou CC, Zhao L, Wang AG, Liu HL. Studies of fluoride on the thyroid cell apoptosis and mechanism. Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2012 Mar;46(3):233-6.

8. Merck & Co. The Merck Index, 1968 Edition. Rahway NJ. USA. Site: http://www.fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/merck-1968.pdf (Last Accessed 30 September 2015)

9. Bang S, Boivin G, Gerster JC, Baud CA. Distribution of fluoride in calcified cartilage of a fluoride-treated osteoporotic patient. Bone. 1985;6(4):207-10. PubMed PMID: 4052272.

10. P. Roschger, P. Fratzl, S. Schreiber, G. Kalchhauser, H. Plenk, K. Koller, J. Eschberggrill, K. Klaushofer. Bone mineral structure after six years fluoride treatment investigated by backscattered electron imaging (BSEI) and small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS): a case report. Bone (Impact Factor: 3.82). 01/1995; 16(3):407-407. DOI:10.1016/8756-3282(95)90480-8.

11. Savas S, Cetin M, Akdoan M, Heybeli N. Endemic fluorosis in Turkish patients: relationship with knee osteoarthritis. Rheumatology International. Rheumatol Int. 2001 Sep;21(1):30-5.

12. Luke J. The Effect of Fluoride on the Physiology of the Pineal Gland. Ph.D Dissertation, School of Biological Sciences, University of Surrey, UK. 1997.

13. Susheela AK, Jethanandani P. Circulating testosterone levels in skeletal fluorosis patients. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1996;34(2):183-9.

14. Chandrajith R, Nanayakkara S, Itai K, Aturaliya TN, Dissanayake CB, Abeysekera T, Harada K, Watanabe T, Koizumi A. Chronic kidney diseases of uncertain etiology (CKDue) in Sri Lanka: geographic distribution and environmental implications. Environ Geochem Health. 2011 Jun;33(3):267-78. doi: 10.1007/s10653-010-9339-1. Epub 2010 Sep 18.

15. Chandrajith R, Dissanayake CB, Ariyarathna T, Herath HM, Padmasiri JP. Dose-dependent Na and Ca in fluoride-rich drinking water–another major cause of chronic renal failure in tropical arid regions. Sci Total Environ. 2011 Jan 15;409(4):671-5. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.10.046. Epub 2010 Nov 24.

16. Liu JL, Xia T, Yu YY, Sun XZ, Zhu Q, He W, Zhang M, Wang A. [The dose-effect relationship of water fluoride levels and renal damage in children]. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2005 May;34(3):287-8.

17. Freni SC. Exposure to high fluoride concentrations in drinking water is associated with decreased birth rates. J Toxicol Environ Health. 1994 May;42(1):109-21.

18. Zhou Y, Qiu Y, He J, Chen X, Ding Y, Wang Y, Liu X. The toxicity mechanism of sodium fluoride on fertility in female rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Dec;62:566-72. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.09.023. Epub 2013 Sep 23.

19. Susheela AK, Jethanandani P. Circulating testosterone levels in skeletal fluorosis patients. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1996;34(2):183-9.

20. Czerwinski E, Nowak J, Dabrowska D, Skolarczyk A, Kita B, Ksiezyk M. Bone and joint pathology in fluoride-exposed workers. Arch Environ Health. 1988 Sep-Oct;43(5):340-3.

21. Chachra D, Limeback H, Willett TL, Grynpas MD. The long-term effects of water fluoridation on the human skeleton. J Dent Res. 2010 Nov;89(11):1219-23. doi: 10.1177/0022034510376070. Epub 2010 Sep 21.

22. Paiste M, Levine M, Bono JV. Total knee arthroplasty in a patient with skeletal fluorosis. Orthopedics. 2012 Nov;35(11):e1664-7. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20121023-29.

23. Chen H, Yan M, Yang X, Chen Z, Wang G, Schmidt-Vogt D, Xu Y, Xu J. Spatial distribution and temporal variation of high fluoride contents in groundwater and prevalence of fluorosis in humans in Yuanmou County, Southwest China. J Hazard Mater. 2012 Oct 15;235-236:201-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2012.07.042. Epub 2012 Aug 8.

24. Varol E, Varol S. Effect of fluoride toxicity on cardiovascular systems: role of oxidative stress. Arch Toxicol. 2012 Oct;86(10):1627. doi: 10.1007/s00204-012-0862-y. Epub 2012 May 10.

25. Ma Y, Niu R, Sun Z, Wang J, Luo G, Zhang J, Wang J. Inflammatory responses induced by fluoride and arsenic at toxic concentration in rabbit aorta. Arch Toxicol. 2012 Jun;86(6):849-56. doi: 10.1007/s00204-012-0803-9. Epub 2012 Mar 16.

26. Choi AL, Sun G, Zhang Y, Grandjean P. Developmental fluoride neurotoxicity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Oct;120(10):1362-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1104912. Epub 2012 Jul 20.

27. Tang QQ, Du J, Ma HH, Jiang SJ, Zhou XJ. Fluoride and children’s intelligence: a meta-analysis. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2008 Winter;126(1-3):115-20. doi: 10.1007/s12011-008-8204-x. Epub 2008 Aug 10.

Armed with a PhD in Alternative Medicine, a graduate degree in Biotechnology, an MSc, and an MBA in Clinical Research and Clinical Pharmacology, Dr Jonathan is a certified practitioner of Alternative Medicine and is actively involved in patient education initiatives. He is also the author of the bestselling book, Outsmart Diabetes. Dr Jonathan loves to share his passion for herbs and other alternative medicinal practices with others through his writing.