The dangers of fluoride (tap water fluoridation)?


Dr. Greger, I have heard some talk about the dangers of fluoride. When I research this all I stumble upon are propagandists websites without scientific backing. Is there any truth to these claims that fluoride in our water supply and toothpaste is damaging our health?

Toxins / Originally asked on the facebook page


The proposed EPA changes to water fluoridation have sparked a resurgence of many of the old anti-fluoridation arguments, which as far as I can tell were successfully debunked over 50 years ago. According to the CDC, fluoridation of drinking water joins vaccination (another unjustly vilified practice) as one of the greatest public health achievements in the last last century.

Image credit: Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr

  • Russell E Walker

    Why do they think that something that has been show to help topically, will cause the same benefit when ingested? It doesn’t make any sense to me!

    • Carol

      I agree. I drink distilled water (for 14 years) and get my minerals and vitamins from a great vegan diet, supplementing B12 and D. Wht try to be healthy and eat organic clean food, etc., and then 6-8 glasses a day of dirty tap water containing chlorine, floride, arsenic, etc., etc. Those that say tap water is tested and has to meet special requirements… humbug! Just as our meat and fish and chicken and on and on is so carefully inspected. Don’t believe it!

      • Borka223

        If you are used to the taste of distilled, what does tap water taste like to you?

        • kevin

          it tastes like ass

    • kevin

      because they are aiming to calcify your pineal gland

  • Marta

    Dr Doctor, I have just read at a website of a company producing cosmetics for vegetarians, that human body absorbs fluoride only until late teens, therefore we should not take it any later. Is this true? I cannot find any research results supporting this. Regards, Marta, PL

  • Ann

    Dr. Greger,
    I recently read that the fluoride added to 90% of drinking water is hydrofluoric acid which is a compound of fluorine that is a chemical byproduct of aluminum, steel, cement, phosphate, and nuclear weapons manufacturing. Is this true? If so, common sense dictates that floride might not be worth the benefits…

    • Toxins

      HF, called Hydrogen Flouride is an extremely lethal and acidic compound that will burn through all organic matter and most inorganic matter. I highly doubt that the drinking water contains HF as a sip would burn a hole through the esophagus.

      • marklloyd

        Ann didn’t post that water was 90% HFA, but rather, that 90% of the water supplies have HFA added, a -very- small %. No “hole though the esophagus”, but still an unnecessarily-added poisonous by-product of aluminum smelting. How is it that the US National Research Council has taken fluoride off the list of essential nutrients yet still considers it “beneficial” ? Something stinks here.

      • jmw

        Municipal drinking water is injected with hydro flouricilic. Acid. The government says small amounts are not harmful when ingested in small concentrations in your water. In its purity it will dissolve and corrode metal, it is also a known carcinogen …..It causes cancer.

    • Wegan

      Flouride attaches to the iodine receptors helping to cause iodine deficiency. There have been a few studies since then. Here’s one.

  • emerson berlanda

    this page does not put any information about fluoride, no pro no cont,
    I’m sorry but what’s the use of creating this page?where is the explanation about fuoride be bad or neutral for our health?, I only saw a comment from carol, not any information on the main page, only in the comments?
    I wanted to know the real scientific facts about fluoride in tap water

    • Thea

      emerson berlanda: If you look above, you will see Dr. Greger’s answer to this question. In his answer, he has a link with text “debunked”. If you click this link, you will be able to download an 85 page paper on the topic that should provide the information you thought was missing. Hope that helps.

      • Susan Groggins McNamee

        The study was written in 1960

        • Thea

          Yes. I believe that was Dr. Greger’s point: ie, that this issue has been worked out for decades. Perhaps there’s new information since then? I don’t know. I didn’t have time to read the paper to find out if the conclusions would likely be timeless. I was just responding to the confusion about there being no scientific answer to the question. The answer is there, whether you like it or not. :-)

    • rick
      • Toxins

        Rick, Mercola is a quack.

        • Derrek

          Why is he a quack? Is distilled water safe to drink?

          • Toxins

            He advocates for many things that are part of the fad diet sector. He sells tubs of coconut oil and advocates for raw milk amongst other things. He also claims without evidence that we should not shower with soap because we cant absorb vitamin D when we do. He is not the most reliable source, and is geared towards having his consumers buy his products.

            As for distilled water, I can’t imagine why it would be harmful. Bottled and filtered tap water has some trace minerals in it that are negligible, but other then that, its as H20 as bottled water is H20

          • Derrek

            What kind of water does dr. Greger recommend? There are claims that distilled water takes minerals from body.

          • Toxins

            Dr. Greger does not recommend a specific water, it is not an issue. And I have seen the claim you have made (specifically from Dr. Mercola). You have to read his article with a skeptical eye, he provides zero citations to back up his claim.
            Much of the food we eat is full of electrolytes, the majority does not come from water. There are trace minerals found in water that are negligible (Na, K, Mg, Ca) but you can find these in much greater quantities in food. He is simply trying to scare his audience needlessly.

          • DanielFaster

            Whatever water or other beverage you drink however, it should NOT come out of a plastic bottle or can which may leach bpa, phthalates or other endocrine disruptors or carcinogens into the contents. Distilled or RO water will absorb more from the plastic since it is more corrosive. Bpa-free often just means they have added other untested chemicals that could be worse than bpa. Also just because they tested a brand of bottle or can for endocrine activity does not mean the next one of the same brand wont – because the source can be changed or the supplier may change thrir formulation.

    • Seabreezes1

      My favorite “short” Pro & Con unbiased article; note the references. This is what SHOULD be in wikipedia:

  • ted

    I find that there are many misconceptions about fluoride. Fluoride is
    not necessarily toxic. It depends on the concentration. The drinking water in
    Denver, CO, for example, contains naturally-occurring fluoride very close to
    the levels that are currently recommended for drinking water fluoridation (0.7
    mg/L to 0.9 mg/L). The water company (Denver Water) actually removes some
    fluoride when the naturally-occurring levels exceed the recommended levels. Much
    of this water comes from the Platte River which is used by many other cities on
    down the line. This water supply has been used by millions of people over 100’s
    of years without problems related to fluoride.

    I find that the public’s perspective is that the government adds all of this
    fluoride to all of the drinking water. That’s simply not true. The communities
    that add it are using a target value that’s very close to a natural
    concentration of fluoride, just not the natural concentration in their
    particular water supply.

    • Thea

      ted: Thanks. That’s very helpful.

    • Jake

      ted it depends on the way the fluoride is complexed. In naturally occuring waters its a different complexed fluoride./ The fluoride they lace our water supplies with is from industrial waste of aluminium production. You need know the history of this scam. There are docos about it., 1000s of patriots spent half their lives trying to get the word out to everyone else.

      • john galt

        Our city buys industrial flouride from Red China (FOIA your water plant; the workers hate the stuff it is so toxic.

  • Susan Groggins McNamee

    Many European countries have ceased fluoridation. One wonders why?

    • rick

      Fluoride is in the halogen family along with iodine. Fluoride has been shown to inhibit the ability of the thyroid gland to concentrate iodine. Research has shown that fluoride is much more toxic to the body when there is iodine deficiency present. There have been no studies which prove that long-term ingested fluoride has any positive effect.
      Many medications that contain fluoride have been pulled from the market due to serious adverse effects. A study in New Zealand found that there was no difference in tooth decay rates between the fluoridated and the non-fluoridated areas. Many European countries have recognized the fallacy of adding fluoride to the water supply and have stopped the practice.

  • Rita

    Dr. Greger I recently read a paper by Dr. Gerard Judd about fluoridation written in 1997, the footnotes themselves are interesting. For now I think I’m skipping fluoride. Thank you for all the valuable information you provide.

  • JP

    Dr. Greger,

    is it safe to regularly drink distilled water?

    Many different answers

    For example:



  • marklloyd

    The late Dr John Yiamouyiannis’s book: “Fluoride, The Aging Factor”, convinced me that fluoride is, at best, unnecessarily added to municipal water supplies & not responsible for improved dental health. At worst, it’s a poisonous waste product of aluminum smelting. Have you read the book?

  • Derrek

    What about dr. Paul Connery the case against fluoride?

  • Derrek

    What about The Case against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There

  • JD
  • Jake McCrann BSc, B.E., MBS

    Hi Mr Jew Greger, a recent Harvard study found that populations who had water-fluoridation around the world had absolutely no correlated improvement in tooth-cavities rates and that in fact they found an astonishing correlation with 15% lowered IQ in teenagers tested in those populations.
    I think your jew masters at the Mossad are going to have to get you a new ID mate. Your mask has fallen off your face.

    • Jake

      And PS I could have got a doctorate in any of the BSc (chemistry), BE (Chemical) or the MBS (Business SYstems) but I had no interest in studying in any of the universities all occupied by nepotistic clan of evil jews.
      I know your game you pervert.

  • Annette

    Sorry but as soon as you said “According to the CDC…” you lost me.

  • Alan

    Dr Gregor, i appreciate the info that you put out, BUT you can keep your fluoride and the vaccinations.

  • god

    Michael Greger M.D. has just proven himself to be a completely incompetent moron……DRINKING RAT POISON IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU!

  • ash6222
  • Bob

    LOL at confident doctors like this who are so breezy with their “debunkings”… science is an ongoing, evolving process, as the recent Harvard fluoride study demonstrates.

  • Ian

    I think adding any form of fluoride to the water supply and then forcing people to pay for it through water rates, as we do here in the UK, whether the amount be deemed beneficial, harmful or otherwise, is simply dictatorial. I make the choice to apply my fluoride topically via toothpaste, but when it comes to drinking, I desire a liquid as untainted by artificially applied chemicals and heavy metals as is possible to supply safely. It doesn’t matter what the arguments for and against medicating supplies are, but when I know my wife reacts allergically to fluoride toothpaste, we wonder how she, and others, are reacting inside to Birmingham water. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be concerned by this regardless of the alleged historical safety assurances.

  • nasr

    There is scientific backing, look at the many countries that do not add fluoride and compare to those that do. Tooth decay has declined at the same rate… Forced medication as a form of repression may be the real danger.

  • laconic

    I discovered after years of getting sick every time I required antibiotics in a country where flouride is required by law for tap water that all I had to do was find water without flouridation and all of the antibiotic side effects disappeared.

  • rick
    I think this link will convince everyone that their is no benefit to fluoridation of water.

  • Derrek

    What’s dr gregers view on intermittent fasting and fasting?

  • Derrek

    What are your thoughts on fluoride? I’ve read a lot that fluoride is toxic and should not be consumed. This is a site with a lot of interesting information: Doesn’t fluoride have a lot of negative health effects, such as what is added to the water supply.

  • Lawrence

    Most european countries reject the use of Fluoride in the water supply. I tend to agree with them.

  • rick

    Fluoride is the only drug dispensed without consumer consent.

    There is no requirement of fluoride in the human body.

    Most of the western world does not fluoridate. The World
    Health Organization shows no difference, across the world, in tooth health
    whether water is fluoride or not.

    One third of the young in the U.S. have fluorosis from too
    much fluoride consumption. What happens in the teeth, likely happens in the

    The ADA has announced that fluoridated water should not be
    used in baby formula.

    Mother’s milk has 250 times less fluoride than what we put
    in drinking water.

    Fluoride interferes with the pineal and thyroid gland

    The NRC investigated the neurologic effects of fluoride on
    the brain. They found evidence of damage to the brain and suggested this area
    desperately needs more study. Several studies from China indicate that fluoride
    consumption lowers IQ in children. A Harvard study found the same result.

    Journal of The AMA – more fluoride consumption equals more
    bone fractures.

    In most cases, the fluoride put in drinking water comes from
    a waste product in the phosphate fertilizer industry.

    • Thea

      rick: re: “There is no requirement of fluoride in the human body.” Do you have a source for that statement? Here’s why I ask: Our bones have fluoride in them. Are you saying that our bodies make all of the flouride that we need and that’s why we don’t need to get it from dietary means? Or were you not aware that flouride is an important ingredient in bone make up? re, “important ingredient” – I got that from the book, “Building Bone Vitality” by Amy Joy Lanou and Michael Castleman

      I’m not saying we have to get fluoride from material added to water. However, it’s my understanding that what they add to the drinking water just brings up water that is deficient in fluoride to levels that occur naturally in other water ways. So, it makes sense to me. I can get fluoride from beans and tea and potatoes and carrots. But it doesn’t scare me to get it from water too.

  • mciuccio

    Wow, the Doc really drops the ball here, maybe the subjects are too controversial to talk about. But it seems very flippant to just

  • LiveWell

    There is a more up to date research showing a link between fluoridated water and significantly lowered IQ levels in children:

    And when it comes to Europe:
    “Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control hails water fluoridation as one of the “top ten public health achievements of the twentieth century,” most of the western world, including the vast majority of western Europe, does not fluoridate its water supply.

    At present, 97% of the western European population drinks non-fluoridated water. This includes: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and approximately 90% of both the United Kingdom and Spain. Although some of these countries fluoridate their salt, the majority do not. (The only western European countries that allow salt fluoridation are Austria, France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland.)

    Despite foregoing “one of the top ten public health achievements of the twentieth century,” tooth decay rates
    have declined in Europe as precipitously over the past 50 years as they have in the United States. This raises serious questions about the CDC’s assertion that the decline of tooth decay in the United States
    since the 1950s is largely attributable to the advent of water fluoridation.”

    • Brux

      Brilliant argument.

  • kaimana7

    Can we consider this study:

    July 25, 2012 — For years health experts have been unable to agree on whether fluoride in the drinking water may be toxic to the developing human brain. Extremely high levels of fluoride are known to cause neurotoxicity in adults, and negative impacts on memory and learning have been reported in rodent studies, but little is known about the substance’s impact on children’s neurodevelopment. In a meta-analysis, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and China Medical University in Shenyang for the first time combined 27 studies and found strong indications that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children. Based on the findings, the authors say that this risk should not be ignored, and that more research on fluoride’s impact on the developing brain is warranted.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hi Kaimana7,

      Thanks for your email. We are happy to consider that study and any others. I don’t think there should be anything off the table. The EHP article reviewed studies on IQ scores for children living in areas of China, Mongolia and Iran where the water supplies have unusually high, natural fluoride levels. In many cases, the high-fluoride areas were significantly higher than the levels used to fluoridate public water systems in the U.S. In fact, the high-fluoride areas in these countries reached levels as high as 11.5 mg/L — more than 10 times higher than the optimal level used in the U.S.

  • Annetha

    I assume not bad for you(?): lemongrass tastes like lemon lollipop in iced tea. My recipe is adapted from a recipe for lemongrass ginger soda, i.e.,

    1/2 cup thinly sliced peeled ginger
    4 plump stalks of fresh lemongrass, cut into 2-inch lengths and smashed
    6 cups water

    sweetener to taste (orig. 1 cup sugar, which is way too sweet for me)

    3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    Bring to boil sliced ginger, smashed
    lemongrass, and 4 cups of the water.
    Steep until cool (~ 2h).
    Add sweetener, if any.

    Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding ginger and

    Stir in the lemon juice and remaining 2 cups of water.

    Refrigerate until chilled.
    (I chill for a couple days until unappealing greenish brown turns pale pink.)

  • Nihi Swannn

    Dr Greger clearly didn’t do his homework on this one…

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Please share studies to support your youtube video and I will do my best to review them with Dr. Greger to see if we need to update our information. Thanks, Nihi.

      • Joshua Pritikin

        There are thousands of peer reviewed papers listed at There are a few problems with water fluoridation. Firstly, the dose cannot be controlled accurately. Water intake depends on weather, exercise, etc. Secondly, there is no need to expose your whole body and internal organs to fluoride. The benefit of fluoride is mainly obtained by exposing fluoride to the teeth (i.e. brushing). Embedding fluoride in the bone does not strengthen, but weakens bone. Plus there are lots of studies that show potential health risks of ingested fluoride. I’m not sure about the amount of fluoride and the increase in odd ratio, but why take the risk when brushing is just as good?

        • Brux

          The main problem I see is that there is no way to avoid it if you want to decline this “treatment”.

      • Joshua Pritikin

        These articles come out all the time. Here’s a Feb 2015 report, “Parents reported higher rates of medically-diagnosed ADHD in their children in states in which a greater proportion of people receive fluoridated water from public water supplies.”

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Thanks for sharing the links, Joshua!. We’ll review.

          • Brux

            Looking forward to this.

      • joshua_pritikin
      • Joshua Pritikin

        You should be aware of the link between uranium enrichment and fluoride,

  • Seabreezes1

    Doctor, I’m afraid you’re promoting endorsements rather than science.

    2015 Cochrane international review of dental studies reveals BIAS, not benefit, i.e. 151 of the 155 dental studies purporting to support fluoridation policy were blatantly biased. Cochrane panelists went on to say the results were inconsistent and did not provide evidence of benefit to poor children or any adult, plus most studies were quite old and not relevant to today:

    2015 Cochrane review of dental studies:
    2015 Scientific Opposition:
    2014 Legal Analysis:

    • Seabreezes1

      The fact that fluoridation is more harmful than beneficial doesn’t prevent CDC and the fluoride lobby from contorting the truth. They did so with the 2000 York Review which had the same complaints of low quality studies with conclusions not supported by the evidence. The York panelists actually spoke up against the “spin” the government proponents put on their report.

      On 2000 York Review: Two main findings were that fluoridation reduced cavities by 15% in young children, which amounts to one or two fewer cavities during childhood and that fluoridation increased dental fluorosis in children by 48 % with 12.5 % of children having severe or moderate fluorosis which is disfiguring and requires costly remediation. Fluoridation proponents (often echoed by the media) claimed that the York Review gave fluoridation a clean bill of health. Professor Trevor Sheldon, Chair of the study committee, had no patience with the spin thus applied to the research findings. He wrote: “It is particularly worrying then that statements which mislead the public about the review’s findings have been made in press releases and briefings by the British Dental Association, the National Alliance for Equity in Dental Health and the British Fluoridation Society. I should like to correct some of these errors:

      1. Whilst there is evidence that water fluoridation is effective at reducing caries, the quality of the studies was generally moderate and the size of the estimated benefit, only of the order of 15%, is far from “massive”.

      2. The review found water fluoridation to be significantly associated with high levels of dental fluorosis, which was not characterised as “just a cosmetic issue”.

      3. The review did not show water fluoridation to be safe. The quality of the research was too poor to establish with confidence whether or not there are potentially important adverse effects in addition to the high levels of fluorosis. The report recommended that more research was needed.

      4. There was little evidence to show that water fluoridation has reduced social inequalities in dental health”….

      A highly respected British medical writer, Douglas Carnall, wrote in response to the York Review: “Previously neutral on the issue, I am now persuaded by the arguments that those who wish to take fluoride (like me) had better get it from toothpaste rather than the water supply.”

  • PLA

    Dr Greger, I am stunned at your response here. To my knowledge, fluoride (and bromide/bromine) displace iodine and magnesium. So fluoride in drinking water can block the action of these 2 incredibly important minerals. I believe this is well documented, including by Dr Carolyn Dean, MD, and Dr David Brownstein, MD. I hope you will check into this and do a series on fluoride, one aspect of which is that it stops the necessary tearing-down mechanism in teeth/bones and causes brittle teeth and bones. Many, many drugs now use fluoride as a component of them and this has further caused many severe problems (such as joint damage from Ciprofloxacin–I know this from personal experience, torn tendons, mental issues from further loss of magnesium, brittle bones from osteoporosis drugs, infertility and pregnancy problems such as pre-term labor, etc). And further, there appears to be no reason to use fluoride anyway–magneiusm, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 all synergistically help escort calcium out of the blood/tissues into the bones and teeth, including the remineralization of teeth and bones. See Dr Mark Sircus’ and Dr Kate Rheaume-Bleue’s books on Magnesium and K2, respectively.

  • Tim

    This is getting glaring Dr. Gregor. To blithely dismiss concerns with fluoridation by simply pointing at a CDC top 10 list and one paper is completely non-rigorous and debate inhibiting. Many people have left informative comments with studies to refer to yet this post still stays unchanged since 2012. Maybe you could bolster your pertness with, um, some (maybe recent) data? Address the Harvard study? A video articulating your position more? Is this topic too touchy, too political? If so, it’s best if you don’t comment rather than flippantly discard people’s serious concerns. At least such political fear could be deduced by your readers. A disappointed (ex)-fan, Tim.

  • Brux

    >> According to the CDC, fluoridation of drinking water joins vaccination (another unjustly vilified practice) as one of the greatest public health achievements in the last last century.

    I am not sure how to evaluate that statement. I think there are huge differences between vaccination and water fluoridation. The first one is the method of administration. I am not a disbeliever in vaccination, but I would not vaccinate people by putting the agent for vaccination in the water, 99% of which would be sprayed onto our lawns or on our skin when we take showers – and end up in the lakes and rivers. I would also not see taking that treatment and making it mandatory as a plus. I drank fluoridated water all my life and yet I have plenty of cavities. If reducing cavities is the goal I believe Dr. Greger’s main theme of eating whole foods plant based diet is far superior to fluoridating all of our water.