The presence of fluoride in our drinking water is a long debated concept that concerns many people. Generally accepted benefits to our teeth are becoming clouded with threats of brain damage and other health problems. Is the apprehension justified? We will take a look at the science behind the supposed benefits and dangers of fluoride intake.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a colorless inorganic anion found in the element Fluorine. A whole host of minerals contain fluoride, and it is also present in small quantities in most foods and drinks.
This includes water; both sea and fresh water have been found to contain fluoride.  However, extra fluoride content is added to drinking water in many places around the world in an attempt to improve the dental health of the area.
Where is Fluoridated Water Found?
Fluoride is added to 70% of public drinking water supplies in the United States. Several countries in Europe, including the UK, Spain, Poland, Ireland and Serbia fluoridate some of their water. The majority of developed countries do not consume water with fluoride in it.
In some countries, including China, India and some African countries have water that naturally contains fluoride, although in some of these parts efforts have been made to reduce the fluoride content. 
The Dangers of Water Fluoridation
While in the past, the fluoridation of public drinking water has been praised as an effective strategy against cavities, it is not without its pitfalls. The trouble with adding fluoride to the water system is that it is impossible to then control the levels of fluoride that a person consumes. Everybody drinks a different amount of tap water, and so while most people will not be at risk of excessive consumption, others may ingest more than is healthy.
The trouble with adding fluoride to the water system is that it is impossible to then control the levels of fluoride that a person consumes. Everybody drinks a different amount of tap water, and so while most people will not be at risk of excessive consumption, others may ingest more than is healthy.
Everybody drinks a different amount of tap water, and so while most people will not be at risk of excessive consumption, others may ingest more than is healthy.
The Dangers of Fluoride Consumption
There are many theories when it comes to the potential risks associated with the consumption of fluoride.
The most concerning, perhaps, is that of brain damage.
A study from Harvard University, funded by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) shows that children living in area with higher concentrations of fluoride in their drinking water had significantly lower IQ test scores than those where there was less or no fluoride. 
This study does not stand alone. In fact, years of research on both laboratory animals and studies carried out on humans display an alarming trend.
Brain development, learning, memory and damage to other neurological processes have all been linked to high fluoride levels. It may also be responsible to the increased number of cases of ADD, ADHD and learning disabilities as well as mental disorders such as depression. 
Harvard professor P. Grand jean puts fluoride in the same category as “lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain”.  With such serious claims, it seems completely unreasonable that fluoride is added to our drinking water without our consent, simply to maintain the health of our teeth.
There are many damaging effects on the brain, including but not limited to:
- Damage to parts of the brain including the hippocampus and purkinje cells
- Increased intake of metals such as aluminium
- Increased formation of beta-amyloid plaques, found in Alzheimer’s patients 
Other Health Risks Associated with Fluoride Intake
Your brain is not the only organ that can be affected by fluoride intake. Other organs like your kidneys and intestines can also be at risk.
Long term fluoride consumption can affect your kidneys’ ability to concentrate urine, leading to imbalanced electrolyte levels in the blood.
Digestive issues including irritable bowel and gastrointestinal problems are one of the most common side effects of fluoride toxicity.
Other dangers are damage to bones and joints through Skeletal Fluorosis and disturbances in thyroid levels, particularly when fluoride consumption is combined with iodine deficiency. 
Keeping Healthy Teeth without Fluoride
It is perfectly possible to maintain good dental health without fluoride. Choose a tooth paste that does not contain fluoride, and visit a natural dentist for regular check-ups and cleaning. The main contribution towards tooth decay will be coming from your diet, not your water supply.
It is important to reduce intake of sugary foods and drinks, as well as processed foods, as this will drastically reduce the rate of tooth decay and cavities. 
Get your dentist on board with your decision by talking to them about it and making sure that any fillings you receive do not contain fluoride.
How can we purify our Water?
While taking care of your teeth without fluoride is a decision you can make and control, avoiding the fluoride in the first place can be more difficult, especially when you are living in an area where fluoride is added to your drinking water.
Boiling the water will not get rid of the fluoride, as it does not evaporate like chlorine. All this method will achieve is increasing the concentrate of fluoride as the water level decreases. 
One answer is to purchase spring water. However, not does this become expensive, but spring water often contains small levels of fluoride and some contains high quantities. In this situation the best thing you can do is invest in a filter to remove the fluoride from your drinking water.
Normal filters such as Brita or Pur will not remove fluoride, so it is important to purchase a filter that uses one of three methods that effectively remove fluoride: reverse osmosis filters, deionizers or activated alumina. 
Your drinking water is not the only water you will want to filter in order to completely eliminate fluoride consumption. Any water you use for washing food also needs to be purified.
You may also want to look into the possibility of filtering your bath and shower water, as it is possible to absorb fluoride and other chemicals though your skin.  The more fluoride you can remove from your body, the better you will be protecting your own health and that of your family.