Poison On Tap: What Fluoridated Tap Water Is Really Doing To A Kid’s Brain, Blood And Teeth

Tap Water: The Good News And The Bad News

A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found two interesting facts about drinking tap water:

  1. Kids who DON’T drink fluoridated tap water are more likely to have tooth decay, and
  2. Kids who DO drink tap water have more lead in their blood system. 


So… to drink or not to drink? That is a question on a lot of parents’ minds! There seems to be a benefit and a downside to both choices, so which one should parents make?

Let’s take a look at the downsides more closely:

Tooth Decay – Is Drinking Fluoride Worth The Risk?

Although tooth decay in children has decreased over the past seventy years, over 23% of preschoolers are still affected by cavities. And a whooping 49.8% of children who participated in the study had some sort of tooth decay. That’s 1 in 2 children suffering with possible toothaches and mouth problems. Treatment for cavities can be expensive and many parents are frustrated at needing to fix impermanent teeth in kids.

Besides their impact on a kid’s smile and the toothache they eventually cause, cavities often cause the following:

  • Poor nutrition because of the unwillingness to chew with painful teeth
  • Infected gums
  • Bacteria from cavities spreading to other parts of the body

No one wants cavities! But is fluoridated tap water the most effective way to prevent them?

While using fluoride directly on the teeth without swallowing may help to slow and/or prevent cavities, there is a pile of evidence showing that it may be harmful if swallowed. 

Dangers Of Fluoride Consumption

Ingesting fluoride consistently over time has been shown to be harmful to the brain, digestive system, heart and bones. (2, 3, 4)

Fluoride consumption can lead to a condition called “Skeletal fluorosis” or weak bones due to the liver’s inability to process fluoride, which then enters the bloodstream and combines with calcium leeched from the skeletal system. (5, 6, 7)

Fluoride consumption may be linked to arthritis and joint problems (8,9,10)

Fluoride is toxic to the thyroid; it disrupts thyroid cells and can even kill them. For many years doctors actually used fluoride to reduce thyroid function in those suffering from an overactive thyroid and current levels in tap water matches the doses they used for this purpose. (11,12,13)

Fluoride consumption has a negative impact on fertility and hormone levels. In women, higher levels of fluoride are correlated with lower fertility rates. In men suffering from fluorosis there were lower testosterone and fertility levels when compared to subjects with minimal fluoride exposure. (14,15)

Fluoride is bad for the kidneys. Research has found higher rates of chronic kidney conditions in areas where the water contains higher levels of fluoride. It only takes a small amount of fluoride to cause renal damage in children. (16,17,18)

Drinking fluoride may have a harmful effect on children’s cognitive development. (19)

To learn more of the dangers and risks of fluoride in drinking water, view the documentary below: Fluoride: Poison on Tap.

On top of the dangers of fluoride consumption, we also need to examine the effects of lead in the bloodstream.

How To Prevent Cavities Without Fluoride

The good news is – there are much more effective ways to reduce cavities and tooth decay than relying on fluoride!

  1. Limit sugar consumption. Soda, high sugar beverages, candies, processed foods, etc. offer little to no benefits at best and are health-damaging at worst. Limit your consumption and instead focus on real foods that come straight from mother nature. If you must consume sugar, brush your teeth immediately afterwards.
  2. Brush with baking soda. Cavities are caused by bacteria and baking soda is a natural antibacterial and antiseptic solution that is great for oral health. It is less abrasive that toothpastes in general and can be mixed with coconut oil and peppermint to improve taste.
  3. Floss! Every single day.
  4. Brush or irrigate weekly with a 2% iodine solution like Lugol’s. Iodine is beneficial for the thyroid and destroys many harmful bacteria.
  5. Increase magnesium and calcium intake. Teeth and bones are largely made up of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. If you eat plenty of steamed or raw greens, then it is likely you are getting enough from your diet alone. However it is rare for most Americans to get enough greens, so doing Epsom salt baths and taking a high quality calcium/magnesium supplement like CALM is a great idea.
  6. Increase Vitamin D. This is huge for oral health! Vitamin D can do more for your teeth than any amount of fluoride and it is fairly easy to increase your intake if you’re intentional about it. The number one way of course is to GO OUTSIDE IN THE SUN. Get your kids outside as often as possible. And only use sunscreen if absolutely necessary as this blocks formation of vitamin D.
  7. Eat MORE vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, plant proteins, organ meats, organic meat and probiotic-rich foods and eat LESS processed foods, refined sugars, grains and conventional meat.

Elevated Levels Of Lead – Why This Is A Huge Problem

The author of the tap water study, Anne E. Sanders, found that 3% of the children in her research had elevated blood lead levels. “Elevated blood lead levels affect only a small minority of children, but the health consequences are profound and permanent” she said.

Signs Of Lead Poisoning In Children

  • Developmental delay
  • Learning difficulties
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sluggishness
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Hearing loss
  • Seizues
  • Eating things that aren’t food

How Much Lead Is In Tap Water?

EPA and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention declared that there is NO KNOWN SAFETY LEVEL of lead in a child’s blood. Both agree lead is harmful to health and children are particularly sensitive to its toxicity. So how much is allowed in tap water?

“EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels.”

If this is the case, why did the tap water study which was published in 2017 find elevated blood lead levels in children drinking tap water?

Although public safety measures are put in place to ensure our drinking water is safe, there are many factors which may potentially result in small amounts of lead in tap water, including corrosion in old pipes, the chemistry/acidity of water in a particular area, water temperature and the types of protective coatings used inside plumbing materials.

How To Avoid Fluoride And Lead In Tap Water

It seems pretty obvious at this point that both fluoride AND lead in our tap water is bad news. So what are some steps you can take to protect your family?

The number one way to protect yourself and your family from the bad stuff in tap water is by using a high-quality water filtration system. We recommend Dr Mercola’s Countertop Water Filers. Whatever you use, make sure it is top of the line and guaranteed to remove lead, fluoride and other contaminants.


So I guess the bad news is… plain tap water is not good enough for you! Lead and fluoride are both damaging to health and should be avoided, especially for children. The good news is, there are plenty of effective methods for preventing tooth decay in adults and children other than fluoridated water.

If you have any questions, comment below! We are always doing our best to stay on top of the latest research so we can deliver it to you simply and fully.

Journal Reference:

  1. Anne E. Sanders, Gary D. Slade. Blood Lead Levels and Dental Caries in U.S. Children Who Do Not Drink Tap WaterAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.09.004
  2. C. J. Spak, S. Sjöstedt, L. Eleborg, B. Veress, L. Perbeck, and J. Ekstrand. Tissue response of gastric mucosa after ingestion of fluoride. BMJ. 1989 June 24; 298(6689): 1686–1687.
  3. Sauerheber R. Physiologic conditions affect toxicity of ingested industrial fluoride. J Environ Public Health. 2013;2013:439490. doi: 10.1155/2013/439490. Epub 2013 Jun 6.
  4. Perumal E, Paul V, Govindarajan V, Panneerselvam L. A brief review on experimental fluorosis. Toxicol Lett. 2013 Nov 25;223(2):236-51. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2013.09.005. Epub 2013 Sep 17.
  5. Czerwinski E, Nowak J, Dabrowska D, Skolarczyk A, Kita B, Ksiezyk M. Bone and joint pathology in fluoride-exposed workers. Arch Environ Health. 1988 Sep-Oct;43(5):340-3.
  6. Chachra D, Limeback H, Willett TL, Grynpas MD. The long-term effects of water fluoridation on the human skeleton. J Dent Res. 2010 Nov;89(11):1219-23. doi: 10.1177/0022034510376070. Epub 2010 Sep 21.
  7. Paiste M, Levine M, Bono JV. Total knee arthroplasty in a patient with skeletal fluorosis.Orthopedics. 2012 Nov;35(11):e1664-7. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20121023-29.
  8. Bang S, Boivin G, Gerster JC, Baud CA. Distribution of fluoride in calcified cartilage of a fluoride-treated osteoporotic patient. Bone. 1985;6(4):207-10.
  9. P. Roschger, P. Fratzl, S. Schreiber, G. Kalchhauser, H. Plenk, K. Koller, J. Eschberggrill, K. Klaushofer. Bone mineral structure after six years fluoride treatment investigated by backscattered electron imaging (BSEI) and small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS): a case report. Bone (Impact Factor: 3.82). 01/1995; 16(3):407-407. DOI:10.1016/8756-3282(95)90480-8.
  10. Savas S, Cetin M, Akdoan M, Heybeli N. Endemic fluorosis in Turkish patients: relationship with knee osteoarthritis. Rheumatology International. Rheumatol Int. 2001 Sep;21(1):30-5.
  11. Zeng Q, Cui YS, Zhang L, Fu G, Hou CC, Zhao L, Wang AG, Liu HL. Studies of fluoride on the thyroid cell apoptosis and mechanism. Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2012 Mar;46(3):233-6.
  12. Merck & Co. The Merck Index, 1968 Edition. Rahway NJ. USA. (last accessed (01-10-2014)
  13. FluorideAlert.org. Thyroid. (last accessed (01-10-2014)
  14. Freni SC. Exposure to high fluoride concentrations in drinking water is associated with decreased birth rates. J Toxicol Environ Health. 1994 May;42(1):109-21.
  15. Susheela AK, Jethanandani P. Circulating testosterone levels in skeletal fluorosis patients.J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1996;34(2):183-9.
  16. Chandrajith R, Nanayakkara S, Itai K, Aturaliya TN, Dissanayake CB, Abeysekera T, Harada K, Watanabe T, Koizumi A. Chronic kidney diseases of uncertain etiology (CKDue) in Sri Lanka: geographic distribution and environmental implications. Environ Geochem Health. 2011 Jun;33(3):267-78. doi: 10.1007/s10653-010-9339-1. Epub 2010 Sep 18.
  17. Chandrajith R, Dissanayake CB, Ariyarathna T, Herath HM, Padmasiri JP. Dose-dependent Na and Ca in fluoride-rich drinking water–another major cause of chronic renal failure in tropical arid regions. Sci Total Environ. 2011 Jan 15;409(4):671-5. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.10.046. Epub 2010 Nov 24.
  18. Liu JL, Xia T, Yu YY, Sun XZ, Zhu Q, He W, Zhang M, Wang A. [The dose-effect relationship of water fluoride levels and renal damage in children]. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2005 May;34(3):287-8.
  19. Tang QQ, Du J, Ma HH, Jiang SJ, Zhou XJ. Fluoride and children’s intelligence: a meta-analysis. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2008 Winter;126(1-3):115-20. doi: 10.1007/s12011-008-8204-x. Epub 2008 Aug 10.
Jenna Barrington
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Jenna Barrington

Jenna Barrington is studying Therapeutic Nutrition and Holistic Medicine and aspires to be a practitioner, teacher and writer. She is passionate about education and helping others take control of their health.

Jenna lives with her husband in Utah and loves writing, cooking, green smoothies, training her dog, Japanese, spending time at the ocean, bungee jumping, walking barefoot in the grass and being with her family.
Jenna Barrington
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