Adding fluoride to water supplies is bad for our teeth

The practice of adding fluoride to water started some 60 years ago, and is widely held by dentists and public health experts to have been a major factor in the improvement in dental health seen in individuals living in areas where water fluoridation is practiced. However, as I have written before, the science shows that water fluoridation is of relatively limited benefit, and has the capacity to do considerable harm ” including to our teeth!

Up until recently, the the most comprehensive study to assess the effectiveness of water fluoridation (often referred to as the ‘York study’) found that just one in six people drinking fluoridated water benefits from this practice [1]. However, drinking fluoridated water was also found to cause serious ‘dental fluorosis’, a condition in which the teeth become mottled, discoloured or even pitted due to excess fluoride.

When the York Study was published in the British Medical Journal, it triggered a flurry of letters which were critical of the conclusions drawn from it. Many letters highlighted the potentially toxic effects of fluoride (such as a an increased risk of bone fracture), and called into question the practice of water fluoridation. One of the most vocal critics of the study was Paul Connett, Professor of Chemistry at St Lawrence University in New York state, USA [2]. Professor Connett had been one of the scientific reviewers for the York study prior to its publication. In his letter calls the authors of the York study to task for not making it clear that dental fluorosis is an indication of a toxic effect of fluoride. He also raises the question of what other enzymes and proteins fluoride may causes unwanted effects in the body that are not visible to the naked eye.

Professor Connett went on to criticise the York study for downplaying the apparent link between fluoride exposure and risk of bone fracture. While the study authors conclude that there was no link between increased hip fracture in the elderly and fluoride exposure, Professor Connett shows how critical evidence of a link was seemingly ignored by the authors.

More criticism for the practice of fluoridation came from a dental surgeon in Ireland [3]. In it, the author states that 73% of the Irish water supply is fluoridated. As a country, Ireland has the sixth best tooth quality in the World. However, of the five countries with better dental quality, four do not fluoridate. Also, in Ireland, individuals living in non-fluoridated areas have more decay-free teeth than those who drink fluoridated tap water! The author of this letter also points out that fifty per cent of the Irish population has dental fluorosis, and asks whether causing a dental disease in half of the population to reduce tooth decay by a supposed 15% is acceptable.

Despite considerable doubts about the ‘benefits’ and concern about the harm it may cause, the British Dental Association (BDA) continue to bang the drum for this practice.

So, I’m wondering whether members of the BDA might think of a recent study which, as the York study before it, casts serious doubt over the wisdom of adding fluoride to water supplies. This reviewed appropriate studies published between January 2001 and June 2006. Like the York study, this review found that dental fluorosis affects about half of those drinking fluoridated water [4].

And again, as with the York study, they could find little evidence that water fluoridation was effective in preventing dental decay.
For instance, the authors of the review report that: In most European countries, where [water fluoridation] has never been adopted, a substantial decline [75%] in caries prevalence has been reported in the last decades” and “Several epidemiological studies conducted in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities suggest that [fluoridation] may be unnecessary for caries prevention.” The authors add, in reference to studies which assessed the effects of stopping fluoridation, that: “after the cessation, caries prevalence did not rise, remained almost the same or even decreased further.”

More information about the potential hazards of fluoride can be found on the website Those of a hardy disposition might also like to look at this interview of Christopher Bryson, author of book entitled ‘The Fluoride Deception’. The book and this interview some of the political issues surrounding the highly dubious practice of water fluoridation.


1. McDonagh M, et al. Systematic Review of Water Fluoridation BMJ 2000;321:855-859

2. Connett P. Letter BMJ 2001;322:1486

3. MacAuley D. Letter BMJ 2001;322:1486

4. Pizzo G, et al. Community water fluoridation and caries prevention: a critical review. Clin Oral Investig. 2007 Feb 27; [Epub ahead of print]

10 Responses to Adding fluoride to water supplies is bad for our teeth

  1. James G 29 June 2007 at 4:58 pm #

    I used to get at least one cavity per year. Then I started using toothpaste without fluoride. Haven’t had a cavity since…

    Anecdotal, I know, and the NHS Dental Hygienist thinks I’m full of it, but I know what works.

  2. Dr John Briffa 29 June 2007 at 5:08 pm #

    James G – please note that the blog above is about water fluoridation (not the use of fluoride-containing toothpaste).

  3. yunus 29 June 2007 at 7:19 pm #

    Note that fluorosis is dose dependent and fluoride levels of approximately 1 PPM does not cause fluorosis. However, I certainly think that fluoride is best applied topically in selected cases rather than being administered through the water supply.

  4. chris 29 June 2007 at 7:29 pm #

    gosh some wierd links on here

  5. Neil Fiertel 29 June 2007 at 10:58 pm #

    One might surmise that fluoridation is unnecessary as per the countries wherein fluoridation is not practiced and yet the carie rate is not high. This does not take into consideration that nearly all toothpaste contains that very fuoride salt that is also added to the water supply or an equivalent. I drink well water that does not contain fluorides. I use a toothpaste that does. I do not have mottled teeth nor did my daughter develop this in spite of being GIVEN fluoride drops during her earlier years. I suggest that those in Ireland who are developing this condition might be receiving too much of a good thing. It is not inconceivable to me that their drinking water AND the toothpaste which amongst children is often ingested to a greater or lesser extent is overkill and that those whose water in Ireland is not fluoridated are in fact getting sufficient from their toothpastes. This does not seem to be considered as obvious as it is in the studies. One must determine in any case group what the TOTAL intake of fluoride from all sources before making a scientific conclusion. I do not see such in the article and so I think it is prejudicial to the use of fluoridation. I see no such mottling of teeth in Canada wherein I reside and my dentist has emphasized that her job is now more to do with maintenance of healthy teeth in children who are no longer stricken with huge numbers of caries as was the case in years before the addition of fluoridation. If you do not like the additions to the water supply, get a Brita Filter and it will remove it..and save money to cover the increased dental bills. Fluoridation is not an evil plot and the stats of its efficacy is well described.

  6. helen 1 July 2007 at 10:32 pm #

    the fact remains that fluoride is a poison second only to arsenic in toxicity & human beings do not need this toxin in our bodies. Swallowing toothpaste can be deadly don’t you read the warning on the box or tube not to swallow it!! To have really good strong teeth you need a toothpaste that contains calcium which is what really keeps teeth strong not fluoride which makes teeth brittle & causes them to snap in half or chip. & as for the human rights issues of forced medication well don’t even get me started on that! I filter all my water & have a filter that specifically takes out the fluoride & my teeth are just fine & I intend to keep them that way. By the way I brush reglarly & don’t eat sugar – mmmmm maybe there is more to dental hygenie & tooth care than a toxic chemical added to our water!

  7. john greene 6 July 2008 at 4:20 am #

    fluoride was given to the prisoners of nazi camps to dumb them down, this made them less likely to escape

  8. Dentist Carlisle 13 July 2009 at 11:13 am #

    It is not just bad for our teeth, it is harmful to our body. We have to make sure that we are going to make sure to follow the right dental practice for our teeth and gums.

  9. Lance 1 September 2011 at 5:21 am #

    I saw an article about a local nurse Margaret Vincent who is from an Australian town called Tenterfield. The article is Fluoride caution by Marie Low posted on 31/08/11. You can see it here.

    She fought to keep fluoride out of Tenterfield 30 years ago. Also 80% of the town voted against it. So if that’s the case then that should be the case. People’s wishes and rights should be respected and not treated like they were something that a stray dog has left you on the lawn to scoop up. The tragic and disgusting thing is that these people who force things on the people have no regard for their fellow man. If they did then they wouldn’t do it. It’s criminal behaviour!

    If we the people don’t want to have fluoride in our bodies then we should have our rights respected. Wether it’s good for us or bad for us is immaterial. Our rights have to be respected !!!! The fact that it is bad for us and been proven so should reinforce that right. If our rights and safety not respected and looked after then there’s something seriously wrong with the system.


  1. Muriella’s Corner Tap water, fluoride, cavities - brush with bar soap « - 29 June 2007

    […] Up until recently, the the most comprehensive study to assess the effectiveness of water fluoridation (often referred to as the ‘York study’) found that just one in six people drinking fluoridated water benefits from this practice [1]. However, drinking fluoridated water was also found to cause serious ‘dental fluorosis’, a condition in which the teeth become mottled, discoloured or even pitted due to excess fluoride. Read More here… […]

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