Leaving the Land of Fluoride

Barbara Tritz
· May 2, 2021 ·

15 minutes

From the very start of dental hygiene school, I learned how “good fluoride was for teeth”, how “important a tool it was to use to help our patients have strong healthy teeth” and that is was the answer to all dental problems. Decay? Add more fluoride. New decay? Stronger prescription-strength fluoride. And, the unspoken: want to boost production? Do fluoride treatments on everyone (even if they did not have cavities because insurance pays for it). Is fluoride the super hero of dental health? With fluoride everywhere- our water system, our toothpaste, foods processed in water-fluoridated areas, tea, plus prescription-strength products, I wondered, why is tooth decay still at epidemic levels? If fluoride is supposed to be the savior of teeth and make them invincible to tooth decay, we have a big problem: it is not working.

Today’s post has been a long time coming. Fluoride is sacred within the dental industry. Revered, worshiped, and put on a pedestal as the be-all-end-all. Today we knock that pedestal to the ground, painful as that might be, especially to my fellow dental peeps that read this. Have an open mind as we leave the “land of fluoride…”

History First

Dental hygienists all learn about a Colorado general dentist Dr. Frederick McKay and researcher Dr. Green Vardiman Black (better known as GV Black). Dr. McKay and Dr. Black studied “Colorado brown stain” and how those mottled teeth were much more resistant to tooth decay. (We now call this brown stain “dental fluorosis” – more on that shortly.) Dr. McKay had also noted that those with this brown stain had no tooth decay. Numerous towns within the state had this staining condition. Dr. McKay, along with another man, Dr. Grover Kempf, published a report on the brown stains. In the town of Bauxite, Arkansas, which was owned by Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), they suspected it was caused by something in the water. A town five miles away had no brown staining.

The chief chemist at ALCOA read the report and commissioned a more in-depth study of the water, and through photospectrographic analysis discovered high levels of fluoride in the water from Bauxite. Dr. McKay went back and rechecked all the water supplies, and confirmed the other communities he had found had high levels of fluoride as well. From there, more researchers started looking into fluoride. Dr. H. Trendley Dean and his staff found that by keeping fluoride levels a 1 part per million (1ppm), teeth did not exhibit signs of dental fluorosis in most people and only mild fluorosis in a small percentage.

Dr. Dean wondered if adding fluoride to the water at this level of 1ppm would result in a population of people with teeth that were more resistant to tooth decay. In 1945, Grand Rapids Michigan was the city to test out this hypothesis. After 11 years and testing 30,000 school children the results concluded that yes, fluoride added to the water system effectively reduced tooth decay by 60%. Systemic water fluoridation quickly took off and by the 21st century has been added to approximately 70% of our municipal water systems.

Around the year 2015 the level of the fluoride in the water system was reduced to 0.7ppm as recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services.

A Very Little Bit of Chemistry and Biology

Fluorine is an element of the halogen family and is found on the righthand side of the periodic table. It is a highly toxic gas that forms compounds with almost every element. It is used in dentistry in the form of the compounds: sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate, or acidulated phosphate fluoride.

Fluoride used in the water system is a hazardous waste byproduct of the fertilizer companies – Hexafluorosilicic Acid. ( I, too, was astounded to learn that tidbit…)

Fluorine is not an essential nutrient our bodies need. It is naturally found in water systems, especially ground water and wells, but may be at toxic levels. Just because it is found in nature does not make it healthy. Fluoride is the negative ion of the element fluorine. Once fluoride is in the body it circulates throughout and enters every tissue. Only 50% of ingested fluoride is excreted daily through the kidneys. The rest accumulates in the bones, teeth, pineal gland and other calcifying tissues. People with poor kidney function excrete less fluoride, and older folks with poor kidney function are affected most.

In addition to water sources, we can also find fluoride in tea, kombucha, Teflon and aluminum cookware, and in fruits and vegetables sprayed with the pesticides Cryolite and Sulfuryl Fluoride. It is even in many medications. Throw in all the food processed with fluoride water and you get exposed to a lot of fluoride. The Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) sets the upper limit daily dose of fluoride – called the maximum containment level (MCL) at 4.0 mg/L. On top of that add the topical fluoride from toothpaste, mouth rinses and prescription applications.

You have no shortage of fluoride in your life.

The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly of Fluoride

The Good:

Yes, there is one very good thing fluoride does. Research shows that: “The compound appears to ward off cavities by inhibiting bacterial adhesion.” Swishing with a solution of fluoride has been shown to reduce the bacterial level in the mouth. By reducing the number of bacteria on the tooth, we can keep the tooth cleaner. That is a big win for tooth decay reduction.

The Bad:

Topical Fluoride:

We were told repeatedly that topical fluoride (the fluoride in toothpaste, and the gel or foam dental personnel smear on your teeth) went into the tooth and made it harder. That it exchanged some molecules within the tooth and created a fluorapatite crystal which made the tooth more resistant to the acids from tooth decay. This is the reason we dental people bow to the world of fluoride- it should protect the teeth from that horrible tooth decay bacteria.

I had always thought this affected the entire tooth structure. I would be wrong in my thinking… Research shows it only goes to a depth of six nanometers into the tooth surface. Let me repeat that- six nanometers deep into the tooth surface. That’s all. Hmm, all that fluoride for a very, very thin shell of SIX nanometers. This research goes against everything we were told to believe.

[Editor’s note: I had no idea how small a nanometer is, so for those of you who also may need some scale: according to this lesson and this site, a bacterium (like, say, S. mutans) is about 1000 nanometers. Human DNA molecules are about 2.5 nanometers wide. Tooth enamel is about 2 to 2.5 millimeters thick, or the size of a thin ring. Which converts to 2,500,000 nanometers.]

What else are we not told? Hold on to your hats as I share.

Systemic Fluoride:

Systemic water fluoridation creates so many health concerns. Mass medicaton for the general public should no longer be happening. If the public knew half of what the fluoride in the water does to the body, they would be in uproar.

And the Ugly:

So folks, the bad and the very ugly truths about water fluoridation.

First: Would you like your smile to look like this? This is the result of fluoride in the water. This is called “fluorosis.” The American Dental Association claims it is only a “cosmetic problem” and “it won’t affect the health of your teeth.” How about this statement from the ADA website: “may make the teeth more resistant to decay.”

Dental Fluorosis

Fluorosis (or as Dr. GV Black first called it, mottled enamel) is from drinking water with fluoride. We rarely see this level of brown staining anymore in the US because the amount of fluoride in the water has been adjusted to prevent this level of staining. (But, now that I am much more aware, I see fluorosis daily in my patients teeth. It is just not at the level you see here in these pictures.) The Colorado Brown stain that Black and McKay saw was the result of much higher levels of ingested fluoride than is currently recommend today. But, here’s the rub: according to Dr. Mark Burhenne of Ask the Dentist: In moderate to severe fluorosis, the cavity and decay rate is greatly increased. Also, he states that ANY amount of fluoride can cause fluorosis.

What early research from 1940 by Dr. M.C. Smith and Dr. H.V. Smith showed was that mottled teeth were: structurally weak, and when decay does set in, the result may often be disastrous resulting in the tooth cracking, inability to repair the teeth and ultimately resulting in extraction.

Nowadays we often see white spots within the enamel. A dental evaluation is needed to diagnose if these white spots are fluorosis, signs of early decay, or possibly other developmental problems in the tooth structure. These white spots can be a sign of fluoride toxicity. According to the Encyclopedia of Toxicology, third edition, on pages 606 to 610: dental fluorosis and thyroid damage are considered to be the main manifestations of chronic toxicity.

The American Dental Association brushes this off as a cosmetic issue but in reality, it is a much bigger problem. Fluorosis is an outward sign of a bigger problem in the body.

Fluorosis is broken down by grades:

Very mild: “Barely visible lacey” white markings to opaque white patches or streaks affecting 25% of tooth structure.

Mild: opaque white spots or streaks that could affect up to 50% of the tooth structure.

Moderate: up to 100% of the tooth structure with some pitting of the tooth

Severe: 100% of tooth structure with pitting and brittleness. Three to four percent of children have moderate to severe fluorosis.

The white patches may discolor with age, turning to yellow, orange, and/or brown. Fluorosis affects upwards of 32% of school children in the US and has increased in percentages from previous surveys. According to the CDC, black children are more vulnerable to fluorosis. Also, those subpopulations with chronic undernutrition are most vulnerable to fluorosis.

Regardless of the level of fluorosis, it is an indication of systemic fluoride poisoning. If it is affecting the integrity of the tooth structure, this is a sign the body has too much fluoride.

Here’s the VERY Ugly Part of Water Fluoridation:

Fluoride poisoning affects many different parts of the body.

The problem is that we, in the U.S., and elsewhere in the world, have many sources of fluoride in addition to water fluoridation, and that we cannot control the quantity of water some people drink. In addition, numerous areas throughout the world already have naturally high levels of Fluorine in their water systems.

Skin rashes: “In hypersensitive individuals, fluorides occasionally cause skin eruptions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, or urticaria. Gastric distress, headache, and weakness have also been reported. These hypersensitivity reactions usually disappear promptly after discontinuation of the fluoride.” – PHYSICIAN’S DESK REFERENCE

I have personally seen patients have acne around their lips, chin, and mouth. This has a real name called Perioral dermatitis. It appears in a fan-like area around the mouth down to the chin and is resistant to traditional acne therapies. Having watched folks brush (like on TV, or animated kid’s shows!) with too much toothpaste and excessive foam while brushing, it is little wonder there is a reaction in those that are hypersensitive to the ingredients in toothpaste and especially fluoride.

Gastrointestinal symptoms: Swallowing fluoride transforms it in the gut to hydrofluoric acid. Hydrofluoric acid damages the gut epithelial lining, creating a loss of the microvilli. Thirst, vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and epigastric pain are the result.

Urinary problems: Fluoridation has been linked to urinary stone disease. Anyone have kidney stones or bladder stones? Stones are the result of dehydration resulting in the crystallization of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, cystine, and uric acid as well as fluoride ions. This research study found that 80% of the stones contained fluoride ions. This fluoride intake can be from either water or ingesting toothpaste products.

Skeletal Fluorosis: In a book published on behalf of the World Health Organization, dental and skeletal fluorosis are the result of elevated levels of fluoride in the water. Skeletal fluorosis is defined as skeletal changes due to long-term ingestion of excessive fluoride and may include hyperostosis and osteoporosis. The earliest symptoms of skeletal fluorosis are very similar to arthritis. Recent findings revealed that consumption of fluoride at concentrations of 1.5 ppm is majorly responsible for skeletal fluorosis. Vague pains can be located in the spine.

There is no known treatment for skeletal fluorosis.

Neurotoxin: A neurotoxin is something poisonous to the brain, spinal cord, or nervous system. It is most destructive before birth or in early childhood. The medical journal Lancet published research that classified fluoride as a developmental neurotoxin along with lead, mercury, arsenic PCB’s, and toluene. Industrial chemicals affect these small developing brains, even at very low levels. Meta-analysis of 27 studies, mainly out of China, showed a decrease in IQ by seven points in areas with high concentrations of fluoride in the water. Even the Harvard School of Public Health took notice of these studies.

Developmental neurotoxins are linked to increases in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, loss of IQ points, disruptive behavior, and other cognitive impairments. Further research into fluoride and IQ reduction have continued to confirm this link. If these studies are not enough to convince you there is a connection between fluoride and cognitive development decline then here is a link to 68 other studies that do just that.

Autism: You don’t normally see the word autism connected to fluoride, but it may well be the missing link in our quest to discover why autism is on the rise. One in 40 children born in the United States is now diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Here’s a research study looking at the connection between fluoride ingestion and the rise in Autism Spectral Disorders (ASD). According to the study published in 2019:

The rise in the ASD prevalence in countries with water fluoridation as well as in endemic fluorosis areas supports a view that F is an important environmental factor in the ASD etiopathogenesis.

Fluoride is a neurotoxin and even at low levels can enter the brain and affect development.

A systematic review of the literature published in 2016 the US Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program reviewed the data and concluded that at concentrations higher than 0.7 parts per million, there is a low to moderate level of evidence to suggest fluoride has an effect on learning and memory. Since there is no way to control how much water people drink, there are those that may get more than the recommended 0.7 ppm.

Bleeding Gums: Wouldn’t it be ironic if by trying to heal one oral disease we make another worse? Fluoride may well accelerate gum disease and gum tissue cell death. Research from Dr. Steven Offenbacher:

Offenbacher et al. [J. Periodontal Research 27, 207-213 (1992)] have presented data that
support the concept that the increase in PGE.sub.2 and thromboxane which occurs during
disease progression is not a result of an epiphenomenal association with tissue destruction, but
rather represents a cell mediated process which directly elicits tissue damage. Thus, the
inclusion of fluoride in toothpastes and mouthwashes for the purpose of inhibiting the
development of caries may, at the same time, accelerate the process of chronic,
destructive periodontitis

Sodium fluoride (NaF) has been shown to be cytotoxic and produces inflammatory responses in humans. Gingivitis and periodontitis account for more than 95% of all inflammatory diseases of the tissues surrounding the teeth. Lee’s results suggest that NaF induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in human gingival fibroblasts (HGF) through both the mitochondria-mediated pathways regulated by the Bcl-2 family and death receptor-mediated pathway and may play a role in the development of periodontal disease.”

Way back in 1936, Dr. H. Trendley Dean also connected higher levels of fluoride to periodontal disease. Dr. Dean was one of early researchers into the uses of fluoride in decay prevention.

Hypothyroidism: Fluoride blocks the uptake and absorption of iodine. Fluoride takes the place of iodine in the thyroid, breast, ovaries, and prostate. It tricks the body into thinking it has enough iodine. Iodine is crucial to healthy hormone production. Iodine deficiency contributes to decreased thyroid hormone production. Your thyroid NEEDS iodine to synthesize thyroid hormones. Brain fog, memory loss, lack of focus, depression, anxiety, and other cognitive and mental health issues can be a result of a lack of iodine.

Fluoride and Brain Health:

Calcification of the Pineal Gland: I never really paid any attention to the pineal gland until I started learning about melatonin production and how important melatonin was to sleep, a healthy brain, and dementia prevention. Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland. Fluoride calcifies the pineal gland, just as it makes those urinary stones mentioned above. Fluoride is attracted to the calcium in the pineal gland. Research also shows it restricts gland growth. Here’s an image from a patient and you can see in the upper right corner the calcification. In addition to calcifying the pineal gland, fluoride also reduces the production and secretion of melatonin. Dementia is on the rise and its connection to poor sleep should be a red flag to look deeper at what fluoride does to this vitally important gland.


Which leads us to more information connecting fluoride consumption and cognitive decline; Fluoride crosses the blood-brain barrier. Research indicates that fluoride damages the brain and changes behavior. Fluoride increases the production of free radicals in the brain.

There is a possibility that fluoride acts to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Research showed that fluoride causes a reduction in density of mitochondria and reduction in mean volume of neurons (brain cells).

Higher levels of aluminum and fluoride were related to dementia risk in a population of men and women who consumed relatively low drinking-water levels of both. Fluorine increases aluminum absorption in the brain.

Fluoride enhances lead uptake in to children’s blood and lead can cause brain damage.

Fluoride is an enzyme poisoner.

Hip Fractures: In a recently released study (April 2021) fluoride was found to increase bone mineral density but also increase skeletal fragility. Fluoride failed to reduce vertebral fracture rates. The increased risk was suggested to be attributed to reduced elasticity and strength of the newly formed bone. Fifty percent of fluoride ingested each day accumulates in the bones.

Hip fractures increased among those with the highest urine fluoride excretions and highest estimated fluoride intake from foods and beverages relative to women with the lowest levels of each exposure, they report. Both urinary and dietary fluoride were associated with hip fractures.

Our findings which are consistent with the effects of high fluoride exposures observed in [other studies] …suggest that long-term consumption of tap water with a fluoride concentration of 1 mg/L…may adversely affect bone health in postmenopausal women.”

Those with poor kidney function excrete even less and build up more Fluoride in their bones. The severity of bone fractures is correlated closely with the severity of fluorosis in both children and adults.

Fluoride and Tooth Decay:

After reading this article you should now be scratching your head as you read this statement from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention dated 2001:

The laboratory and epidemiologic research that has led to the better understanding
of how fluoride prevents dental caries indicates that fluoride’s predominant effect is
posteruptive and topical and that the effect depends on fluoride being in the right amount
in the right place at the right time. Fluoride works primarily after teeth have erupted,
especially when small amounts are maintained constantly in the mouth, specifically in
dental plaque and saliva (37). Thus, adults also benefit from fluoride, rather than only
children, as was previously assumed

If we have known since 2001 that water fluoridation was NOT effective systemically why is there any question that water fluoridation is still “a thing”? The CDC itself says fluoride in the water actually works in the same manner as the fluoride treatments you receive from the dental hygienist: TOPICALLY. It does nothing to harden the tooth during its development (which was the entire reason for water fluoridation.) And, as noted above, research shows topical fluoride only hardens to a depth of SIX nanometers…

More research on tooth decay and Fluoride:

Does fluoride reduce tooth decay rates? And… the answer is no, it does not. Tooth decay rates have declined at similar rates in both countries that have fluoridated and also have not fluoridated. The decline may be connected more to income level than to fluoridation. Dental decay is strongly correlated to poverty levels and ethnicity.

One more research study to further prove even topical fluoride is ineffective and useless:

This study compared the effectiveness in preventing decay with sealants that contained fluoride verses sealants that did not. The results showed there were similar reductions in both types of sealants. The fluoride containing sealants provided no extra benefit.

Toxicity for Bottle Fed Infants

Last but not least, let’s talk about babies that get infant formula. These babies may get as much fluoride in their formula bottle as an adult who drinks one liter of water a day. An adult dose is NOT safe for baby. A baby or young child is much more vulnerable to the toxic effects of fluoride. The American Dental Association finally told its membership to not use fluoridated water to make baby formula to reduce fluorosis.

Forced Medication

Fluoride is a drug, not a nutrient.

Water fluoridation goes to everyone- including those that are most vulnerable to its toxic effects. You can control the concentration but you cannot control the doses. Folks who are above-average water drinkers, the very young, the very old, those with diabetes, low thyroid function, kidney disorders, inadequate diet, iodine deficiency, those with low income, and those hypersensitive to fluoride should not be forced to ingest this drug. They cannot control the dose they ingest.

Water Fluoridation is essentially a mass medication of the general public by the government. The government has no right to force anyone to take medication. As you have just read, fluoridation does not work and actually does harm. The patient, and only the patient, should make that decision for themselves/their family.

Dumping the Sacred Cow For Better Answers

Tooth decay is a preventable disease. We have many tools in our toolbox to prevent decay. Read my blog post: Tooth Decay: Hard Facts About Soft Teeth ~ Queen of Dental Hygiene for new information on how to stop dental decay and even better – prevent it. Cavities are not an inevitable part of childhood and tooth loss should not be part of adulthood.

The thing I have noticed in my many years of dental hygiene is the increase in dental prevention education to the public. Add to that almost every dentist now employs a dental hygienist or two as compared to the 1950s and 1960s when dental hygienists were not a common fixture of the dental office. We, as a profession, must do more to educate and address the needs of people of color and those at or below the poverty level. Mass education is our main tool in combating dental diseases.

We must look beyond the band aid of fluoride because it does not work and, even worse, it does much more harm to the human body.

(While I have provided 66 references for you to do further reading, I encourage you to always do your own research. You must be in charge of your own health and do what is in your best interest. )

Let’s stop shaming our patients into getting fluoride treatments. Instead, spend that extra time helping them learn how to really brush properly, talk about good nutrition and better food choices, and address gut health. Leaky gut is the real source of tooth decay, not a lack of fluoride. I know, shocker, just know, you heard it here first, but don’t let it end here! This could be the beginning of a real Dental Revolution.

Here are two water filtration systems that will remove fluoride: Fluoride Filter Water Bottles & Pitchers to Remove Contaminants – Clearly Filtered


Leave the land of fluoride with confidence. You are indeed making the right decision. Stop water fluoridation and topical fluoride and let the real dental health healing begin.



Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

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