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How Much Fluoride Do You Drink?

fluoride in water

Parenting isn’t easy.

If you’re not being awakened at night or having to quell arguments between siblings, you’re researching like mad trying to figure out the best foods to feed your brood, and then making the time to cook from scratch and source quality ingredients.

You have decisions to make about the health, schooling, and faith formation of little tiny beings who have no one to depend upon other than you.

It’s a big, scary job.

And the culture we live in doesn’t make it any easier.

From the pressure to seek momentary fun over lasting relationships to the junk food we’re bombarded with everywhere we look, I can think of about a hundred reasons our culture is toxic to families and growing children, and it’s daunting to try to figure out how to balance living IN the world with the need to NOT live a “worldly” lifestyle.

Then there’s the research. Any fact you find about nutrition and natural health will almost immediately have a counter-point that says exactly the opposite. It can be really difficult and frustrating, almost painful, to make decisions that will impact your children’s physical and emotional health when the “right choice” is rarely in black and white.

“Get Out of the Pool!”

Remember this scene in the movie Erin Brockovich? It’s a beautiful sunny day, and children are gaily splashing in the pool in the background. Julia Roberts, playing the title role, has just explained to the mother suffering from cancer that the water is tainted with toxic, cancer-causing chemicals from the local plant.

I first watched the movie as a single person, and I could feel the palpable terror in the mother’s heart as she digested the information…she suddenly screams at her children to get out of the pool immediately and nearly has a breakdown. Nothing had changed about her world except the information she had just been given. The water had always been harmful, even though it looked crystal clear and good for drinking. This mother can do nothing about the water her children had played in for the past hour, nor about the water they’d consumed in all their years in that home.

When I watched the movie after becoming a mother, this scene became wholly terrifying in the depths of my soul. My mouth went dry, my heart palpitated, my hands were chilled, and I emphasized with that mother to the nth degree.

It’s easy to become a bit overwhelmed when confronted with a wealth of new information about hazards in our world. This scene depicts exactly how I used to feel as I gazed around my house when I first started learning about natural health and all the hazards we all live with.

What toxins are in my water? What pesticides might be on that lettuce? If I push the “start” button on my microwave, how does it affect my food? My children’s brains? It takes all my willpower not to run outside screaming, “Get out of the pool, NOW!!!!”

If I did that in my situation, we’d have nothing to eat, so it wouldn’t be very practical. You can’t just “get out of the pool” of the world of food: purchasing, preparation and storage. You can’t just quit taking showers and drinking the water.

When confronted with conflicting information, there’s nothing to do but make a choice, even when all you want to do is…nothing. Ignorance isn’t bliss, unfortunately, and once you have the knowledge you can only pray and do what you can. It’s a frustrating venture and tempting to fall into paranoia and paralysis. I’m hoping that writing this blog will both help me navigate the perilous waters of nutrition information, and give others an easy source of information with which to make their own good decisions, learning from my mistakes (but not taking everything I say as gospel).

On Fluoride

Today I’m going to muddy the oral health waters by sharing a video by a dentist on fluoridated water. If you’ve been overwhelmed recently and don’t want to think about one more thing…well…don’t watch this.

For now…

If you cannot see the video above, click HERE to view on You Tube.

Dr. David Kennedy, a dentist, is speaking on risk analysis of adding fluoride to city water at a metropolitan water district public hearing in Los Angeles, CA, in 2007. 

For those of you who hate watching videos like I do, I took the hit for you. Here are some notes:

  • When talking about drugs or anything one takes, there is a phrase: “Dose alone makes the poison.”
  • Recommended dose of fluoride for a baby = NONE.
  • Fluoridated water then delivers a dose to babies that would be gross malpractice if a doctor wrote a scrip for that amount.
  • That’s why formula is not supposed to be mixed up with tap water.
  • Even the American Dental Association, who wholeheartedly supports water fluoridation, reminds its members (privately) that “if…formula is the primary source of nutrition, it should be mixed with water that is fluoride-free to reduce the risk of fluorosis.
    • This isn’t “dental fluorosis,” it’s the whole body – nerves, ligaments, endocrine system, brain… (the images of a boy whom I assume suffers from fluorosis are freaky here). When you overdose on fluoride, the effects are systemic (and serious).
    • Fluoride works topically, and even then you can overdose, which is dental fluorosis, spotty teeth, and it looks like this, in a very mild case, according to the video:
Dental fluorosis because of fluoridated water

And this from the CDC website:

Dental fluorosis because of fluoridated water

  • The level of fluorosis is proportional to the levels of fluoride in the water supply.
  • It is expensive to fix!
  • Dr. Kennedy specifically warns his audience that if they add fluoride to the water and do NOT warn their community that “it is no longer safe to drink” because of the increased risk of fluorosis, they could be held accountable for the billions of dollars it costs to fix stained teeth. (Not to mention the actual fluorosis…)

Research: Dental Fluorosis

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, staining of teeth – but think of the billion dollar industry built on “teeth whitening” and “bleaching!”

Fluorosis happens when a child is exposed to fluoride as the permanent teeth are forming under the gums. Kids over about 8 years old are no longer at risk. (CDC) The ADA agrees that it’s only aesthetic, not a “disease.”

Skeletal fluorosis, which really only happens at doses higher than the CDC recommended levels in city water, is another story. It effects the joints with stiffness and then arthritic symptoms, reduces bone mass and causes osteoporosis, and can even completely cripple people and lead to muscle wasting disease. (1, 2)

It’s unlikely that city water would cause systemic fluorosis, but it’s also strange that no one can know exactly the dose of fluoride people are getting, because who knows how much contact with fluoridated water, both topically and ingesting, a single person has in their lifetime? Couple that with the fact that little bodies will be impacted more by the same “dose” in the water, and I’m glad we have fluoride filters in our Berkey.

On Fluoride Load

A second speaker finishes the latter half of the 9-minute video and shares many graphs of just how much fluoride the average citizen of various ages is expected to consume.

The greatest “dose per pound” is formula-fed infants, followed closely by people who work outside, children who drink a lot of water, and athletes.

She shares “no effect levels” that are actually below the CDC’s “safe” level. She recommends that the CDC’s level be lower, and also points out that many people, especially those in the groups listed above, will consume quite a bit more fluoride than the “no effect” levels.

She closes by quoting someone from 1956 and says it is still relevant today:

“It is obvious from the knowledge of fluoride toxicity that such factor of safety cannot be established when fluoride is added to the public water supply at the level recommended by proponents of fluoridation…”

Closing Thoughts

Even though fluoride may be helpful topically, like in toothpaste, I choose to avoid it there, too, because it’s not necessary and could compound with other sources of fluoride.

Does your family get unknown doses of fluoride?

Other Oral Health Posts:

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

33 thoughts on “How Much Fluoride Do You Drink?”

  1. Stephanie Anne

    We use a ZeroWater filter to reduce our flouride intake, although a Berkey is on my “want” list. It’s amazing how many things we put into our bodies thinking they are harmless. Thanks for sharing this, Katie!

  2. I somehow missed this when you first posted it.

    I’m older than most of the folks who read your blog. I was born when the dentists were telling mamas to give their children fluoride drops. My mother, wanting to be a good mama, followed direction. I don’t know if i’m especially sensitive, or she over-dosed me, but my baby teeth turned black and had to be capped. My permanent teeth came in between your moderate and severe pics. They are light brown, and originally had bright white horizontal stripes, tho the white has faded over the years.

    I’ve never been a particularly energetic person, but i had a fluoride treatment at age 16, and was never the same again. My energy crashed, and i began having severe insomnia. Of course i didn’t connect it to fluoride then. I knew something was wrong, but the doctors kept telling me “You’re just depressed” – even tho i didn’t think so. Eventually i gave in and took their drugs which never helped.

    But here is the kicker – something more than 30% of the drugs on the market are fluoride-based. Prozac, Paxil, and Luvox are. Diflucan (anti-fungal) is as well. Lipitor, Baycol, and Lescol, all given for cholesterol issues are too. The list goes on and on, but the worst are fluoroquinolone antibiotics – Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, and Maxaquin are the most common.

    This last category of drugs destroys lives. They can spontaneously rupture tendons, they can destroy muscle tissue, they can be fatal. They cause untold numbers of problems, yet most doctors are unaware and give these drugs out easily. This class of drugs should be reserved for end of life, or life-threatening issues, yet they are given for cough and UTI.

    I was just beginning to learn about natural health when i was given Cipro for an infection. My life has never been the same, and the damage that began with fluoride drops when i was an infant went ballistic when i was given Cipro. I’ve spent nearly six years trying to recover what i had before.

    I’m sorry this is so long, but fluoride is one of my red flags, and i do what i can to try and educated folks on the dangers of using it. It is true that most folks don’t have the severe response that i have had, but who wants to take a chance?

    I’ve learned to manage everything at home with supplements and herbals. I’ve only filled one Rx since Cipro, and that was for a topical powder. It is my intent to never again take a Rx. I don’t even use over the counter stuff. It makes a difference that i don’t have kids. That would be much harder.

    Thank you for your blog and working to inform folks of the different issues in our world.

  3. Angela via Facebook

    lots of good facts and resources for getting flouride OUT of your community

  4. Sheris via Facebook

    Pediatricians are now also pushing a multi-vitamin (at least in my area) for infants that also contains fluoride.

  5. In a couple of the Oral Wellness summit presentations they mentioned taking iodine in order to remove fluoride from your body – I think iodine and fluoride attach to the same receptors or something. It’s worth looking into. I seem to remember something about Vit. C and Selenium helping as well.

    As far as the dental fluoride treatments go – it is almost impossible not to swallow some of that stuff. I remember being told not to swallow during the treatment when I was a kid and it was torturous. I am pretty sure I swallowed a fair amount every time.

  6. Andrea via Facebook

    Our local water isn’t fluoridated. I gave my son fluoride drops when he was around 18 months old, and he got a bit of fluorosis on his teeth–and I’ve never filled the dentist’s prescriptions for fluoride supplements since. Not for cosmetic reasons…they were just baby teeth…but it just didn’t seem right or necessary.

  7. Thank goodness, our city water is NOT fluoridated, but my 9 year old has teeth that look like the mild – moderate pictures of fluorosis above. The dentist has always said it is probably due to antibiotics use (he’s only had a few rounds) or a high fever during infancy. Sigh.

  8. Interesting post. This issue gets me SO fired up; I hate when the government takes the control out of our hands and does what the experts say is “best.” I wrote to my state reps about it and got no response. I guess it’s not a pressing political issue. We have a filter, but it doesn’t filter fluoride. I guess that’s another good thing about my kids drinking so much raw milk rather than water.

    I am wondering though, when I was researching this issue a few months ago, it seems like I read that the CDC recently lowered their recommended limits on fluoride in water, so hopefully the levels in this video have been lowered.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Good call, Ann, I think someone else said the same thing, although I guess I didn’t get into any “current event” type things to see that for myself while writing this post. Here’s hoping!! 🙂 Katie

  9. We drink public tap water, which is naturally and artificially fluoridated. We simply cannot afford to buy bottled water or filters. Interestingly, all of the cavities I have had in my entire life were during a 2 year period after college in which I drank mostly bottled water. Went back to the tap and no more cavities! Coincidence? Who knows. My kids do get fluoride treatments at the destist, but only once a year instead of twice (my insurance will also only pay for once a year… hmmmm). Our dentist does not start until at least age 6, which seems to be a lot later than the norm. We use commercial toothpaste, I tried some natural (AKA EXPENSIVE) stuff once just to see what the hype was all about. It made me gag a lot and it had a horrible filmy aftertaste, so probably will not use it again.

    In regards to other junk in the water, the EPA has some new-ish regulations: many hospitals now have disposal systems for medication and IV fluid waste to prevent it from going down the drain or in regular trash. Look for medication disposal drives or site drop offs to dispose of unwanted meds and household chemicals instead of flushing, putting down the drain or in the trash. Can’t do anything about what’s in human body waste, but it’s a good start.

  10. I’m convinced that our family needs a Berkley. Does anyone know about how often you need to replace the filters? I know it says after about 6000 gal. But for an average household about how often is that? They are just so expensive! Thanks ladies. (or guys 🙂 )

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      The fluoride filters recommend every 9-12 months, but the black Berkey filters are longer than that. We’ve had ours for about 15 months and have not changed the black filters yet. You can test them to see if they’re still working like this:

      I’m telling you, it is so cool to see that work!

      On the 15 mos vs. 6000 gallons or whatever, we are a family of 5 who use a lot of water for soaking beans, making stock, etc.
      Hope that helps! 🙂 Katie

  11. When I had my older daughter 9 years ago and went to the doctor, one of the questions she would ask at each visit for her was if we were on city water. We were. She encouraged me to use city water rather than bottled water for her bottles (I nursed and supplemented with formula) because she figured it would have fluoride. We were on a rural water system. I don’t actually think the water there was fluoridated, but I never said so to her.
    We are on a different rural water system now. I just checked. They do not fluoridate the water here. The web site shows that there is naturally occurring fluoride in the water, but below the level needed to prevent cavities. The natural fluoride here is .50mg/L. I checked for the town we lived in before. Same thing, but a little lower natural level of fluoride is in the water .40mg/L. Curiously, the town where my son and daughter-in-law live purchases fluoridated water that is acceptable at .20mg /L. Our natural fluoride levels are 2 – 2 1/2 times as much as theirs is and yet is not sufficient for protecting against the development of cavities? Hmmm. Will need to do more research on this…

  12. We have the Berkey filter with the extra fluoride filters for our city water. We love it and know that it is also taking care of any bad stuff in our old house’s pipes or medications in the water that the city’s processing doesn’t take care of …like hormones from women’s BC pills that gets peed out. (Gross I know)

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Yes, so gross to think about…but unfortunately, the Berkey cannot touch the hormones. Nothing can. Talk about even grosser… 🙁 🙁 🙁

  13. We are on a well and I just started taking my oldest to the dentist this past year. We were heavily recommended to do fluoride since there is none in our water. She is due back soon and they will push for a repeat. She is 4. Since we don’t get any at home, DH and I are on the fence if she should get a treatment at the dentist. Any tips or easy articles on fluoride?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I wish I had a link for you…but I can tell you that I grew up on well water too and got the twice-yearly treatments… I am not sure what I’d do with my kids if we had a well, but at least that fluoride is topical (where it may help the teeth) instead of systemic. Although come to think of it…since I filter fluoride out of our water, I guess I’m in the same place except that the dentist doesn’t know to rec’d the treatments… 🙂 Katie

      1. There are actually cases in the U.S., one in southern Oregon I know of, where children have died from fluoride poisoning from swallowing some of that treatment in a dentist chair. Use care. Do your research before making a decision.

  14. There is also fluoride in most bottled water and non-organic grapes are sprayed with a form of fluoride so we are also exposed to it in grape juice, raisins, etc.

    1. And even other liquid juices labeled “from concentrate” may also have fluoridated water in them. Who knows as it’s not a labeling requirement. I avoid them.

    2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Good point! Anything processed that uses water – like broth, juice, and probably even bread products and such, would likely use the city water wherever it’s produced. Oof. Never knew about raisins; I’m glad I recently commited to buying organic raisins only. We eat a LOT of them!
      🙂 Katie

  15. This is something that makes me cringe every time I think about it…

    I was on Rx toothpaste (i.e. higher levels of fluoride) for a time until I started reading about the effects of such. I’ve since switched to homemade toothpaste and–guess what?? I haven’t had a cavity since! I believe there other contributing factors to this, but think my change in brushing habits is number one.

    Wishing for a well….. ; )

  16. My family lives in the city, with… city water. Yuk, I know. We have a filter for our drinking water but I know it doesn’t remove fluoride. What are some ways to reduce or remove this chemical? Thanks! Do Berkley water filters get rid of the fluoride?

    1. Regular Berkey water filters do not remove fluoride, you have to add the Berkey fluoride filters as well (some people don’t have fluoride in their water, so no need to filter).

    2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Joy is right, I just wanted to pop in so you knew I heard your question! The black Berkey filters don’t do fluoride, but there’s extra white filters that nail fluoride, arsenic, and maybe something else. I don’t know of any other way to remove fluoride, but I don’t know everything, that’s for sure. 😉


      1. I really really really want to buy a Berkey…but, I’m having trust issues. Why aren’t they NSF certified? Why can’t they be sold in CA? I’m not sure I believe the “we’re a small company” reasoning. If the Queen, the Peace Corp, and whoever else buys Berkeys….why can’t they afford to have the appropriate testing done? I’m not trying to bash…I’m just REALLY concerned about my family’s health. I don’t want to blindly believe this company. I’m having trouble finding anyone who has done any testing on their Berkey water after purchase to confirm how clean the water is. (and ‘tasting’ clean doesn’t count 🙁
        Again, I sooooo want to buy one. Are they too good to be true? Has ANYONE out there tested their Berkey water?


        1. MrsD – I hear your concerns! They can’t be sold in Cali because of some really strange Cal. law, but I have never looked it up. I’m actually working on getting some high quality water tests for a “before and after” with my Berkey right now. Which means it could take a few months before it’s up on the blog – but it’s coming. I think others have tested, and there have been independent tests done on the Berkey as well. The independent testing is often called into question only because the professor that did them has retired and doesn’t want to answer questions anymore (I don’t blame him!), but that doesn’t make his work any less valid. Anyway – I’m not sure where to send you immediately to find testing, but you can subscribe here and watch for info in the coming months! 🙂 Katie

          1. I’ve been looking for better answers online for about 4 months (on and off with babies 🙂 I’m tired of lugging home bottled water from the grocery and running out all the time. *and it’s probably just as bad as the water in our 100+ year old house but it makes me feel slightly better. Slightly*
            It just hit me yesterday…duh….I bet Katie has looked into this more! You are so “science-y” 🙂 if that’s a word! And, I trust you as you let us all know your real life victories and freely admit when things don’t work out as planned too.
            The Amazon reviews on the Berkey are very worrisome (and not just the ones about the filter fails) I hate to do RO because honestly the idea of adding minerals seems like a pain and I’ve read they (the minerals) have an unpleasant odor/taste when added in.
            I definitely do subscribe to your posts. Your blog was one of the first I came across in my food journey in 2010 and it has been invaluable on many occasions!
            I make so, so, so many of your recipes. (yogurt and sourdough too!)
            Anyhow, I am going to be buying a water filter of some description soon. (I’ll wait on your tests 🙂 I will definitely be using your Amazon link!
            Thank you for all of your hard work! My food journey would be quite incomplete without you≈xo

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