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Mercola Natural Health Articles
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1 (CDC), 40 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 6 use potentially dangerous amounts of toothpaste.
The CDC and American Dental Association (ADA) recommend using no more than a pea-sized amount for children in this age group, and those younger than 3 should use no more than the size of a rice grain on their toothbrush.
The problem with using excessive amounts of toothpaste has to do with the fluoride it contains. If you look closely, you’ll find fluoride-containing toothpastes have a warning on their label stating that “If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.”
This warning was made mandatory for fluoride-containing dental products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April, 1997.2 Ironically, while swallowing toothpaste is recognized as a cause for concern, we’re supposed to believe that drinking fluoridated water at any quantity is not only safe but beneficial for our teeth.
Too Much Fluoride Causes Dental Fluorosis
The fact of the matter is that fluoride is a toxic substance with no known biological imperative. Researchers have even questioned its efficacy as a topical anticaries prophylactic.3
Dental caries is caused by demineralization of your teeth by the acids formed during the bacterial fermentation of dietary sugars. Demineralization is countered by the deposit of minerals from your saliva. However, the remineralization process is a slow one, and fluoride is said to prevent dental caries by enhancing this remineralization.
The problem is, your teeth do not actually rely on fluoride for remineralization. What’s more, research4 has concluded that the protective shield fluoride forms on teeth is up to 100 times thinner than previously believed. It has long been believed that fluoride changes the main mineral in tooth enamel, hydroxyapatite, into a more-decay resistant material called fluorapatite.
However, the researchers found that the fluorapatite layer formed in this way is only 6 nanometers thick — meaning it would take almost 10,000 such layers to span the width of a human hair. As noted by the authors, “it has to be asked whether such narrow … layers really can act as protective layers for the enamel.”
Meanwhile, fluoride has been shown to cause significant systemic harm when ingested, which is part and parcel of the CDC’s new warning against using too much toothpaste. As reported by the Chicago Sun Times:5
“Brushing with too much toothpaste can damage enamel, as children could swallow too much fluoride while their teeth are developing, the CDC says. This can cause dental fluorosis, white marks and discoloration of teeth.”
However, dental fluorosis is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fluoride damage. For example, evidence shows fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar level.6 Importantly, it’s a known neurotoxin, shown to lower IQ in children.7
Most US Kids Have Fluoride-Damaged Teeth
According to research8 presented at the April 2017 National Oral Health Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 57 percent of youth between the ages of 6 and 19 years have dental fluorosis, a condition in which your tooth enamel becomes progressively discolored and mottled.
When Fluoride Action Network (FAN) researchers analyzed the same set of data, they found over 21 percent of adolescents had moderate fluorosis and 2 percent had severe fluorosis.9
According to FAN, "The data suggests that up to 24 million adolescents now have some form of dental fluorosis, with over 8 million adolescents having moderate fluorosis, and 840,000 having severe fluorosis." Incredibly, the situation is still worsening. According to the most recent data, which has yet to be published, the dental fluorosis rate in the U.S. may now be a staggering 65 percent.10
In stark contrast, when water fluoridation was first started in the U.S. in 1945, it was promised that only 10 percent of people would suffer from mild dental fluorosis at the then-recommended levels.11 Clearly, they were wrong.
In 2011, concerns over escalating fluorosis rates prompted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to lower the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water, from a previously recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L to 0.7 mg/L.
However, adverse effects, including reduced IQ, behavioral alterations, neurochemical changes, hypothyroidism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been demonstrated even at that lower level, so while it reduced exposure for many, the most serious risks remain.
What’s more, reduced IQ has been seen in study participants with higher urinary fluoride concentrations even when no dental fluorosis was present, which suggests the doses of fluoride that impair cognitive ability are far lower than those that cause severe dental fluorosis.12
Fluoridated Water Likely a Far Greater Concern Than Excessive Toothpaste
Unfortunately, public health officials often brush off fluorosis as a purely aesthetic issue, one they believe is an okay trade-off for the supposed benefits of fluoride. In reality, dental fluorosis is an outward sign that fluoride is damaging the body in other ways as well.
Research has found impairment in cognitive abilities among children with fluorosis (even mild fluorosis) compared to children with no fluorosis, for example. Studies have also found that children with higher levels of fluorosis have increased rates of cavities13,14 — a finding that suggests more is definitely not better, not even when it comes to protecting against cavities.
Importantly, the CDC completely ignores the role fluoridated water plays in this epidemic, as toothpaste is by far not the only source of fluoride for young children, and probably isn’t the most significant source either.
In a January, 2019 study15 in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, the prevalence of dental fluorosis among 10- to 12-year-olds in three Ecuadorian provinces was nearly 90 percent. According to the authors, “A positive statistical relationship and statistical significance was detected between dental fluorosis and consumption of bottled beverages.”
A “low negative” relationship between fluorosis and brushing with adult toothpaste without help suggests fluoridated water (used in bottled beverages) is likely to be a greater risk factor than toothpaste exposure, although toothpaste ingestion may still play a role.
CDC and Mainstream Media Ignore the Elephant in the Room
In response to the CDC’s toothpaste warning, FAN writes:16
“A spate of news stories … focused on kids swallowing too much toothpaste. But according to Paul Connett, Ph.D., FAN Director, ‘The defenders of water fluoridation are missing the real story. Dental fluorosis is a biomarker of over-exposure to fluoride and the 'elephant in the room' is what damage fluoride is doing to other tissues.’
Recent scientific research indicates that exposure to fluoridated water may lower thyroid function17,18 and 350 published studies indicate that fluoride can damage the brain … While it is understandable that die-hard promoters of fluoridation should be fixated on any study dealing with teeth, it is less understandable why the media should ignore fluoride's impact on the brain.
The fetal brain is under attack from several environmental toxins19 but only one, fluoride, is deliberately added to our water. There are safer ways to prevent dental caries than exposing the fetus to a neurotoxicant … Repeating the dogma that fluoridation is "safe and effective" many times does not make it so.
Connett urges more scientists to overcome this dogma and intimidation and review the brain studies themselves … fluoride-brain studies are readily accessible.20 Connett added that, ‘I believe that the intellectual ability of future generations depends on their willingness to do this. Neither intimidation nor dogma has a place in science or public health.’"
Protecting Your Dental Health Has Nothing to Do With Fluoride
When it comes to good oral hygiene and preventing cavities, it’s important to realize that drinking fluoridated water and brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is not the answer. It's far more important to address your nutrition and basic oral care. Here’s a five-step plan that can help you improve your oral health, without the use of toxic agents such as fluoride:
1. Reduce your net carbohydrate intake to meet your insulin level requirement. I suggest you reduce your overall net carbs (total grams of carbohydrates minus your grams of fiber intake) if your fasting insulin level is over 5.
Aside from sugar, avoid carbs like beans, legumes and grains such as rice, quinoa and oats, as well as highly-processed grain products like bread, pasta, cereal, chips, bagels and fries. These begin digestion in the mouth and impact the health of your teeth the most.
Limit your daily fructose intake to 25 grams or less. Even fructose found in fresh fruit should be limited until you’ve normalized your insulin and leptin levels. If you’re already struggling with Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance, consider restricting your total fructose to 15 grams per day until your insulin sensitivity has been restored.
Focus on eating a diet of fresh, whole foods, including grass fed meats and organic and fermented vegetables. This helps ensure you get plenty of minerals for strong bones and teeth. If needed, consider adding one or more nutritional supplements to support your oral health.
2. Brush twice or three times a day, 3 to 6 minutes after drinking and/or eating.
3. Use nonfluoridated toothpaste, or make your own. For example, you could simply mix coconut oil and baking soda with a pinch of Himalayan salt. High-quality peppermint essential oil can be added for flavor and cavity prevention. Start with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil and baking soda, and add more of one or the other until you get an agreeable consistency. (Slightly firmer consistency tends to be easier to use.)
If buying non-fluoridated toothpaste, be sure to check the ingredient list for other harmful ingredients such as triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, diethanolamine and parabens.
4. Floss daily.
5. Pull with coconut oil once a day, ideally first thing in the morning, for five to 10 minutes to reduce bacterial growth, strengthen your teeth, reduce bad breath and lower your risk of gum disease.
To Protect Your Child’s Teeth, Bones and Brain, Avoid Fluoride From All Sources
For instructions on how to brush and floss properly, as well as oil pulling guidelines, see “Dental Dedication: Improve Your Oral Health.” In the video above, Bill Osmunson, a practicing dentist and staunch advocate against fluoride, also discusses some of the variables that contribute to good oral hygiene (summarized above).
Remember, by avoiding sugars and processed foods, you prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay in the first place. Following up with proper brushing and flossing and getting regular cleanings with a mercury-free biological dentist will ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy naturally.
Many natural substances, such as vitamins C and K2, Coenzyme Q10 and homeopathic tissue salts such as silica, calcarea fluorica (calcium fluoride, not to be confused with sodium fluoride found in toothpaste), calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate, also have the power to improve the health of your teeth and gums.
Fluoride really has no major advantage, only hazards. And those hazards go far beyond the visible signs of dental fluorosis. Far worse is the damage that occurs inside the body, which you cannot see.
So, in addition to teaching your children about proper nutrition and oral care, be mindful about limiting their fluoride exposure from all sources, including toothpaste and other dental products, fluoridated water, fluoridated pesticides (and hence pesticide contaminated foods), bottled beverages such as juices and teas, fast food packaging, non-stick pots and pans, fluorinated drugs, fluoridated table salt and mechanically deboned chicken.
Oat-based foods, such as oatmeal, cereals and bread, are considered by many to be a healthy dietary addition, but if you eat such foods know that you’re probably getting herbicide residues along with them.
In testing done by Friends of the Earth (FOE), 100 percent of oat cereal samples tested positive for residues of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide.1 While there are multiple reasons to reconsider the health value of oats, including their lectin content, the rampant use of glyphosate on this crop as a desiccant just prior to harvest, and their subsequent glyphosate contamination, is worthy of attention.
All Oat Cereals Tested Contained Glyphosate
FOE, looking to uncover how many pesticides and herbicides residues are in commonly eaten foods, tested store-brand cereal, beans and produce from the top four food retailers in the U.S.: Walmart, Kroger, Costco and Albertsons/Safeway.
Altogether, 132 samples of house brand samples were tested, from more than 30 U.S. stores in 15 states. Residues of glyphosate and pesticides — neonicotinoids and organophosphates — were found, with glyphosate being detected in 100 percent of oat cereal and pinto bean samples tested.
The average level of glyphosate in cereal samples was 360 parts per billion (ppb), which FOE noted is more than twice the level set by Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists for lifetime cancer risk in children. Some of the cereal samples contained residues as high as 931 ppb.
As for pinto beans, levels were found up to 1,128 ppb, although average glyphosate levels were 509 ppb — 4.5 times higher than EWG’s benchmark for lifetime cancer risk in children. According to FOE:
“EWG determined that a 1-in-a-million cancer risk would be posed by ingestion of 0.01 milligrams of glyphosate per day. To reach this maximum dose, one would have to eat a single 60-gram serving of oat cereal with a glyphosate level of 160 ppb or a 90-gram serving of pinto beans with a glyphosate level of 110 ppb.”
Oat-Based Foods Marketed to Children Contain Glyphosate
EWG also commissioned independent laboratory tests to determine how much glyphosate is lurking in the U.S. food supply. Forty-three out of 45 food products made with conventionally grown oats tested positive for glyphosate, 31 of which had glyphosate levels higher than EWG scientists believe would be protective of children’s health.2
Examples of foods with detectable levels of glyphosate include Quaker Dinosaur Eggs instant oatmeal, Cheerios cereal, Nature Valley granola bars, Quaker steel cut oats and Back to Nature Classic Granola. Further, out of 16 organic oat foods tested, five contained glyphosate, although at levels below EWG’s health benchmark of 160 ppb.
Follow-up testing of another 28 samples of oat-based cereal and other oat-based foods marketed to children found glyphosate in all the samples tested, with 26 of them coming in above EWG’s health benchmark of 160 ppb.
Glyphosate was detected in General Mills’ Cheerios and a host of Quaker brand products such as instant oatmeal, breakfast cereal and snack bars. The highest glyphosate level — 2,837 ppb — was found in Quaker Oatmeal Squares breakfast cereal. According to EWG:3
“These test results fly in the face of claims by two companies, Quaker and General Mills, which have said there is no reason for concern. This is because, they say, their products meet the legal standards.
Yet almost all of the samples tested by EWG had residues of glyphosate at levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.”
Why Do Oats Have Glyphosate Residues?
Nearly 300 million pounds of glyphosate are used in the U.S. each year, with usage being heaviest in the Midwest due to extensive production of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy. In fact, more than 90 percent of corn and soy grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered, and these ingredients are common in processed foods.4
Oats, although not GE, are a common source of glyphosate residues because the chemical is used as a desiccant on many non-GMO crops. In northern, colder regions farmers of wheat, oats and barley must wait for their crops to dry out prior to harvest.
Rather than wait an additional two weeks or so for this to happen naturally, farmers realized they could spray the plants with glyphosate, killing the crops and accelerating their drying (a process known as desiccating).
In some cases, non-GMO foods may be even more contaminated with glyphosate than GMO crops, because they’re being sprayed just weeks prior to being made into your cereal, bread, cookies and the like.
Researchers from University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine noted in JAMA that Roundup is “applied as a desiccant to most small nongenetically modified grains.” So for both GE crops and non-GE grains, glyphosate “is found in these crops at harvest.”5 As an aside, beans are also desiccated using glyphosate, which is likely why FOE’s testing found such residues in all the pinto bean samples tested.
Glyphosate is the only systemic herbicide registered for use prior to harvest of dry beans. When applied preharvest, glyphosate moves to both the growing points and storage structures (including roots and seeds) of plants to target EPSP synthase, which prevents production of certain amino acids and diverts energy from essential plant processes.
This process affects the entire plant causing death and necrosis of green material. In fact, it’s the only systemic herbicide registered for use prior to the harvest of dry beans, and although it’s not a true desiccant, it’s the “product of choice for many dry bean growers,” according to the Alliance of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Societies.6
However, the article stresses that the timing of application is crucial to prevent excessive residues of herbicide in the final product, stating:7
“[W]hen relying on this herbicide alone or when using it with other desiccants, application timing should be delayed to limit glyphosate accumulation in bean seed … But desiccation is a science that requires finesse.
Regardless of the product(s) being used, agronomists and growers must ensure proper application to maximize desiccant efficacy while limiting negative impacts to quality, including unacceptable herbicide residue levels.”
Glyphosate Linked to Pregnancy Risks
Herbicide use is on the rise in the U.S. Midwest, where corn and soy crops are prolific, and researchers are concerned exposure could be harming pregnant women and children in the area.
In a study of pregnant women in central Indiana, glyphosate was detected in the urine of 93 percent of the participants, with higher levels found in those living in rural areas and those who consumed 24 ounces or more of caffeinated beverages per day.8
Further, higher levels of glyphosate in women’s urine was significantly associated with shortened pregnancy lengths. Study author Dr. Paul Winchester, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the Franciscan St. Francis Health system and professor of clinical pediatrics at Riley Hospital for Children in Indiana, said in a news release:9
“In our study, which is ongoing, mothers with relatively higher levels of glyphosate were more likely to have shorter pregnancies and deliver babies with lower birth-weight, outcomes that everyone should be concerned about. Shorter pregnancies with relatively lower birth weights have been linked to lower cognitive ability later in life and higher risk of metabolic syndrome.”
As for the higher glyphosate levels among rural residents, none of whom were farmers or directly involved in Roundup application, it’s believed the exposure may have come from inhalation of contaminated air or dust.
It’s also possible that consumption of caffeinated beverages may be associated with higher glyphosate levels because some caffeine-containing beverages, such as coffee, tea and soft drinks, may contain glyphosate residues, although the study didn’t test for this.10
Even Diapers Contain Glyphosate, Which Could Pose Long-Term Health Risks
A French study of disposable diapers revealed glyphosate was found in the material, along with about 60 other chemicals. Although the levels of glyphosate were low, Anses, the French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety, said it and other chemicals “could migrate through urine, for example, and enter into prolonged contact with babies’ skin.”11
They gave diaper manufacturers 15 days to develop a plan of action to remove harmful substances from the products. Although the specific diaper brands weren’t named, they’re said to provide a representation of the market and include some that are sold in multiple countries. Anses, while suggesting that no immediate risk was present, said long-term health effects could exist:12
“There is no epidemiological research allowing us to prove the health effects linked to the wearing of nappies. That said, dangerous chemical substances have been found in the nappies … there is evidence the safety thresholds for several substances have been crossed.
At the current time and from what we know at the moment, it is not possible to exclude a health risk linked to the wearing of disposable nappies.”
Eating Organic Reduces Cancer Risk
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate is a "probable carcinogen" in 2015. In August 2018, jurors ruled Monsanto (which was taken over by Bayer in June 2018) must pay $289 million in damages to DeWayne “Lee” Johnson, a former school groundskeeper who claimed the company’s herbicide Roundup caused his terminal cancer.13
The award was later slashed to $78 million,14 but it’s not an isolated case. Thousands of people across the U.S. have filed lawsuits alleging that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and others containing the active ingredient glyphosate, caused them to develop cancer.
There are many routes of exposure to this likely carcinogen, including via your drinking water, but diet is among them. The featured study also found residues of another potentially carcinogenic pesticide — organophosphates — were widespread in applesauce, apples and spinach samples they tested.15
Eating organic is one simple way to avoid these toxins, and research shows that doing so could reduce your risk of cancer. In a study of nearly 70,000 adults, those who ate primarily organic foods had a lower risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer compared to those who rarely or never ate organic foods.16
EPA Petitioned to Prohibit Glyphosate’s Use as a Desiccant
Choosing organic oat products may be especially important to avoid glyphosate, as EWG’s studies suggest that glyphosate levels may be higher in oat products than they are in even wheat and corn. Further, “real dietary exposure” is not limited to oat products. Children (and adults) are being exposed to glyphosate from a variety of sources, with potentially devastating effects.
EWG and other consumer groups have petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce the amount of glyphosate residues allowed in oats from 30 parts per million (ppm) to 0.1 ppm, as well as prohibit the use of glyphosate as a preharvest desiccant.17
The 0.1 ppm limit for glyphosate on oats was actually the legal limit in 1993 — it has since been raised 300fold, in response to a petition from Monsanto around the time farmers began to widely use glyphosate as a desiccant late in the season.18
If you’re concerned about glyphosate residues in your food, you can help to prompt change by reaching out to the companies that make your food. Let them know that you prefer foods without glyphosate residues — and are prepared to switch brands if necessary to find them.
In addition to voicing your opinion to food companies, contact the EPA and encourage them to restrict preharvest applications of glyphosate in order to reduce the amount of this toxic chemical entering the food supply.
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