According to a 1989 National Institute for Dental Research study, 1-2% of children living in areas fluoridated at 1 ppm develop dental fluorosis, that is, permanently stained, brown mottled teeth. Up to 23% of children living in areas naturally fluoridated at 4 ppm develop severe dental fluorosis. Other research gives higher figures. The publication Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride, put out by the National Academy of Sciences, reports that in areas with optimally fluoridated water (1 ppm, either natural or added), dental fluorosis levels in recent years ranged from 8 to 51%. Recently, a prevalence of slightly over 80% was reported in children 12-14 years old in Augusta, Georgia.(82)
Fluoride is a noteworthy chemical additive in that it’s officially acknowledged benefit and damage levels are about the same. Writing in The Progressive, science journalist Daniel Grossman elucidates this point: “Though many beneficial chemicals are dangerous when consumed at excessive levels, fluoride is unique because the amount that dentists recommend to prevent cavities is about the same as the amount that causes dental fluorosis.”(83) Although the American Dental Association and the government consider dental fluorosis only a cosmetic problem, the American Journal of Public Health says that “…brittleness of moderately and severely mottled teeth may be associated with elevated caries levels.”(84) In other words, in these cases the fluoride is causing the exact problem that it’s suppos ed to prevent. Yiamouyiannis adds, “In highly naturally-fluoridated areas, the teeth actually crumble as a result. These are the first visible symptoms of fluoride poisoning.”(85)
Also, when considering dental fluorosis, there are factors beyond the physical that you can’t ignore – the negative psychological effects of having moderately to severely mottled teeth. These were recognized in a 1984 National Institute of Mental Health panel that looked into this problem.(86)
A telling trend is that TV commercials for toothpaste, and toothpaste tubes themselves, are now downplaying fluoride content as a virtue. This was noted in an article in the Sarasota/Florida ECO Report,(87) whose author, George Glasser, feels that manufacturers are distancing themselves from the additive because of fears of lawsuits. The climate is ripe for these, and Glasser points out that such a class action suit has already been filed in England against the manufacturers of fluoride-containing products on behalf of children suffering from dental fluorosis.
Still, certain segments of industry have yet to get the message. A recent newspaper ad campaign promotes Dannon’s “Fluoride to Go” spring water “for kids who can’t sit still.”(88) Supplied in convenient kid-sized bottles with the pop-up “athletic” cap kids adore, the product perpetuates fluoride’s false promise of better dental health for the new generation of kids for whom bottled water is more desirable than soda pop. The irony is that the shift from pop to water is one thing that does impact children’s dental health significantly. Fluoride is totally out of place in this scenario. It makes one wonder how much fluoride might be in other brands of bottled water, including Evian and Volvic, which are owned by Dannon’s parent company.