We didn’t just wake up one day and decide to look for toothpaste with some alternative to fluoride.
I had used fluoride toothpaste for 42 years and assumed it was safe. For me, baking soda was something you used on your pet’s teeth, or what people in the Great Depression used when they couldn’t afford real toothpaste (never mind that fluoride toothpaste didn’t exist then). But then one day I heard a podcast about fluoride in the water, which made me go out and do my own investigating.
You can listen to this podcast yourself, at the permalink here, or look up episode 185 of the Gnostic Media Podcast. Interviewed in the podcast is a fellow named Walter Graham who had participated in actions to get fluoride removed from drinking water (really, to get it not added in the first place). I have to admit that having ingested fluoride in drinking water my whole life, I was a little skeptical. I am not here to say that Graham is wholly or even partially correct, but I strongly suggest you listen to the podcast if you are interested in this subject. It sure got me thinking.
The next day, I had a water cooler conversation about the podcast with a coworker. He said, “oh yeah, when I was working lawn care in college, the owner of the company told me about a test that so and so (major chemical company, name deleted so I won’t get sued) did on cattle. They gave them fluoride to see if it prevented tooth decay. Turns out it caused their teeth to rot out.” Wait, what??? He then went on to say, “we told the owner he had it backwards and that fluoride strengthens teeth, but he swore that that was what happened.” My coworker thought that there might have been something about “too much fluoride” in the story, but didn’t remember the details. I went back to my desk and googled “too much fluoride”. I found this page written by a registered dental assistant and the following words jumped off the page:
“Signs and symptoms of acute fluoride toxicity”
I had no idea there was such a thing and if the line had said, “Signs and Symptoms of Orange Juice Toxicity”, I’d probably be looking for a new breakfast juice. I also got hits for something called “Fluorosis”. You can read the Wikipedia Page about Dental Fluorosis for yourself, here.
This all got me thinking about the dangers of fluoride. Was it poisonous? After all, you can purify water with bleach, but drinking it straight will kill you. Heck, you can die from drinking too much milk. Was it just a dosage concern, or was this something to be avoided entirely? More investigation was in order…