Is Sodium Fluoride Dangerous? Risks and Benefits Analyzed

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ToothbrushI remember going to the dentist as a kid and dreading the experience. Why? Not that any kid loves going to the dentist, but I was definitely ending up with cavities more often than not. This continued into adulthood unfortunately, and when I asked the dentist what I was doing wrong, he would explain to me that I had “strong gums, but weak teeth,” and that people were typically born with one or the other combination. Great, I thought. Well, at least I don’t have to worry about gum disease.

“What toothpaste do you recommend I use?” I asked the dentist, thinking that must be the culprit of my many cavities. He would reply with “it doesn’t matter, as long as you have flavor and fluoride.” Sodium fluoride has long been known to be a cavity fighter. And to my knowledge was never really a health concern until recently. But while this stuff is present in our drinking water here in the United States, it has been classified as a toxin in other countries. So which is it? Is sodium fluoride good or bad for you? Does it help prevent cavities, or does it cause cancer?

What is Fluoride and Where Does it Come From?

Fluorides, such as sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, and fluoride monofluorophosphate (MFP fluoride), are created when the element fluorine combines with a metal or other substance. Fluorides are absorbed into the blood via your digestive tract, where they then travel and collect in high calcium regions such as your teeth and bones. Fluorides occur naturally in the air, water, as well as the earth. The fluoride in your body is mostly from water, food, fish, tea, coffee, dental products, you can even get some fluoride by using teflon-coated pans (who knew?!?).

Does Sodium Fluoride Help Prevent Cavities?

Yes, that’s a well established fact. In 1945 water fluoridation began in the U.S. because scientists discovered a lessening of cavities in areas with fluoridated water (commonly referred to as “florinated water”). In my own experience, I went through rigorous research to find out what may be causing my cavities, and finally came up with a dental hygiene regimen that has left me cavity free for several years now.

My Cavity-Free Teeth Tips

  • I floss 1 to 2 times per day and use a water pik (specifically the Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser (WP-660) at night. According to my dentist, the flossing gets at bacteria under the gums that the Waterpik can’t reach, and the Waterpik can remove stubborn pieces of food from between your teeth that the floss can’t get out, so they’re mutually beneficial.
  • I only brush once to twice per day, only after flossing, and at least 30 minutes after eating. If eating any highly acidic foods such as citrus fruits, I will wait at least an hour before brushing (this is from the research I found that indicates that some of the ingredients in toothpaste can interact with the acids and actually erode the enamel on teeth).
  • But the biggest culprit of all may be that I have trouble breathing through my nose at night. Saliva acts as a natural protectant for your teeth I learned. By breathing with my mouth open all night, my teeth would be exposed to dry air and therefore more susceptible to cavities. To remedy this I took two steps. First I purchased some Breathe Right Nasal Strips, which, while not perfect, do help me breathe easier. Second, I started to use a Neti Pot on a regular basis. I was always skeptical of this, but when used before going to bed I find that I breathe much better and don’t wake up with a dry mouth.
  • My dentist also recommended I swish with ACT Restoring Mouthwash before going to bed, which contains a sodium fluoride solution.

Is Sodium Fluoride Dangerous?

So here I am content that I finally found a solution to my “strong gums, weak teeth” dilemma. And along comes a bunch of research suggesting that sodium fluoride is actually dangerous to our health (read: it’s a toxin). If “fluoride and flavor” is so good for our teeth, then what’s wrong with sodium fluoride? Recent research has shown that fluoride in high doses can be toxic. But isn’t that true of a lot of things we’re exposed to? Just what is a “high dose”? And what about long, chronic exposure to small doses? In other words, how “long” of a time-span do these research studies address? After consulting my dentist (who is, shockingly, pro-fluoride), and other health professionals, I found very few who were willing to take a negative stance on fluoride. So I’ve delved into my own research. Here are some sources I’ve come across:

  • Wikipedia – Fluorides are rapidly absorbed, and interfere with electron transport and calcium metabolism. Large ingestion of fluoride salts or hydrofluoric acid may result in fatal arrhythmias. Chronic over-absorption can cause hardening of bones, calcification of ligaments, and buildup on teeth. Fluoride can cause irritation or corrosion to eyes, skin, and nasal membranes. The lethal dose for a 70 kg (154 lb) human is estimated at 5–10 g. Sodium fluoride is classed as toxic by both inhalation (of dusts or aerosols) and ingestion. In high enough doses, it has been shown to affect the heart and circulatory system. For occupational exposures, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have established occupational exposure limits at 2.5 mg/m3 over an 8 hour time-weighted average.
  • – The maximum allowed level of sodium fluoride in our drinking water is 4.0 mg/L, set by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), for adults, and 2.0 mg/L for children under the age of 9. The recommended dose for drinking water is 0.7 mg/L, set by the US Dept of Health and Human Services (this used to be higher, but since we get fluoride from other sources now, such as toothpaste, this recommendation was lowered from a range of 0.7 – 1.2 mg/L in 2011). Natural drinking water sources in the US have an average fluoride level of about 0.2 mg/L, although in some places it can be much higher. The natural levels of fluoride in water in some places can be even higher than 4 mg/L. Community water systems in such areas are required to lower the fluoride level below the acceptable standard. But the levels in private water sources, such as wells, may still be higher. In other words, if you’re concerned about fluoride exposure, you might actually be getting less fluoride via the “fluoridated water” from your city! Fluoride addition to drinking water is a local (city/municipality) decision, about 2/3 of Americans have access to fluoridated water.
  • – The Mayo Clinic is almost an outright advertisement for taking more sodium fluoride. It lists brand names of products that include sodium flouride such as Aquafresh, Denta 5000 Plus, Ethedent, and Fluoridex. Suprisingly, they actually list a recommended daily dose of fluoride: birth to 3 years of age: 0.1 to 1.5 milligrams (mg); 4 to 6 years of age: 1 to 2.5 mg; 7 to 10 years of age: 1.5 to 2.5 mg; adolescents and adults: 1.5 to 4 mg! That’s when we just learned that 4 mg can be a lethal dose. Say what? I noticed that in small print at the top of the page it says “Drug information provided by: Micromedex.” Pharmaceuticals giving profits priority over our health? That never happens, right? Argh!
  • – On the very anti-fluoride side of the debate, there are several websites such as this one taking an aggressive stance against sodium fluoride. Their main objective appears to be to reduce the amount of fluoride we ingest, as opposed to the flouride we apply topically (ie don’t swallow). FlourideAlert is concerned with the long-term chronic effects of sodium fluoride ingestion, particularly with people that drink great amounts of flouridated water or are exposed to industrial versions of fluoride.
  • The Fluoride Deception– this book covers extensively the problems with fluoridation, and goes as far as to discuss the environmental concerns and damage that’s been done. While I haven’t read this, I plan to if I find the time. It receives, at the time of this writing, 5 stars from 77 reviewers. One thing I noticed in the comments was remarks from people with thyroid problems and how that could be related to over-fluoridation.
  • – another site that takes a very aggressive anti-fluoride stance, going so far as to call it a government conspiracy. They call fluoridated water the “poison tap water” and mention everything from cancer to lowering of IQ. I’ll let you read that page for your own entertainment/ knowledge gathering.
  • My Dentist – last but not least, my dentist is obviously a huge proponent of fluoride. Even the dental assistant went on to discuss how “systemic” (ingested) fluoride, also known as skeletal fluoride, is beneficial to skeletal and bone formation. It didn’t occur to me that ingested fluoride (which is the source of much of the fluoride controversy) could be beneficial. I was under the impression that only a topical application was good for your teeth.

Out of all these sites I found one to be the most useful and well-balanced, although I was impressed by the depth of research contained on It has made me think more about the potential long-term/chronic effects of regular sodium fluoride exposure. It seems to me that the biggest concern has to do with ingestion of fluoride vs topical application. I’m curious to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below – know of any key sources of information that I missed (I’m sure there are many!)?

This next video by a state representative who also happens to be a doctor, focuses on the point of ingestion (via our drinking water) vs topical application (toothpaste and mouth rinses) and the potentially detrimental effects of ingestion on children.

Joe Hensley, M.D. and  State Representative, on the Dangers of Fluoride [VIDEO]

Sodium Fluoride Poisoning

So let’s say you do get too much sodium fluoride. What’s the worst that can happen? From my research, here’s some of the ugly stuff you can get:

Skeletal/Dental Fluorosis

Many reputable websites mention these ailments. Skeletal fluorosis is excess fluoride build up in the bones. This can eventually result in joint stiffness and pain, and can also lead to weak bones or fractures in older adults. In children, this can result in dental fluorosis, excess fluoride build up in the teeth, which prevents enamel from forming normally. This can cause permanent staining or pitting of teeth.

Other websites go as far as to mention arthritis, cancer, diabetes, endocrine disruption, kidney disease, male fertility, thyroid disease, and more. But my question is, if people have been ingesting sodium fluoride (and other fluorides) since World War II, and there are such serious long term side effects, wouldn’t we be hearing more about them by now?

How to Reduce Your Fluoride Exposure?

Water in glassThe best way to reduce your fluoride exposure, and particularly your fluoride ingestion (vs the fluoride you rinse with and spit out, for example), is to find out how much fluoride is in your everyday drinking water. Note that tap water, well water, and even spring or bottled water can all have higher or lower amounts of fluoride. As mentioned above, tap water, the only regulated source, does not always have the highest fluoridation content. What it does have is a guaranteed ceiling.

So, if your drinking water comes from a public source, contact your local community water system to find out how much fluoride is in it. I called our own city’s water department and they promptly returned my call explaining that our citywide fluoride levels are 0.5-0.7 milligrams per liter (or parts per million). As a public water customer you also have access to an annual Consumer Confidence Report on water quality. You’ll find out all the chemicals that are in your drinking water, not just fluoride. Call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 to find out more about drinking water safety in general, you may unearth something important I haven’t covered (if you do, please share it with me and our readers below). If you get your drinking water from a private source such as a well, you can hire a laboratory to come out and test fluoride levels.

Should I Remove Fluoride From My Drinking Water?

My integrative doctor is on the anti-fluoride bandwagon and a proponent of so called reverse osmosis filters (such as this one: APEC 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System (ROES-50) that remove fluoride and other toxins from your drinking water. However, I’ve also talked to experts who say those filters are typically used by bottled water companies and will removing everything from water, making it a useless clear liquid only good for hydration. In other words, valuable minerals and salts that are good for you are also removed.

Fluoride Free Toothpaste?

If fluoride is still too scary for you, here are some fluoride-free toothpastes I’ve found:

Are There Alternatives to Sodium Fluoride?

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic detoxification practice of swishing around of sesame or coconut oil in your mouth daily for 15-20 minutes once a day. In addition to body cleansing, it is supposed to help dental and oral health. However, the ADA (American Dental Association) recommends against this for any sort of dental care. On the other hand, my wife’s dentist said it could not hurt and would likely reduce dry mouth symptoms. So, she felt oil pulling was worth a shot for anyone who was interested in trying it for any or all of its benefits. We have an article on essential oils that goes in-depth on the powers of oils and their health properties if you’re interested.


If you’ve heard that fluoride may be dangerous, you’ve probably also heard about triclosan (a chemical found in Colgate, for example). While there’s no definite research proving it’s dangerous, you can read our article on triclosan dangers and judge for yourself. Lastly, we’ve got a whole series of articles on holistic healing that address potentially harmful elements we’re exposed to on a daily basis and how to defend against them.

What are your experiences with sodium fluoride? Are you for or against its use?

About The Author:

Alex loves nature and does his best to take care of the planet. He doesn't take for granted the serenity that can be found in the stillness of an ancient forest, or the majestic power of the ocean's large waves as they crash on an isolated island shoreline. He wants to raise awareness for how simple it can be to make a couple changes in your everyday life that can make a huge difference for the environment in the long term.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.
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October 16, 2019 6:40 pm

Triclosan was amazing — I was supposed to get a root canal done. Was going to Britain to perform. Friend there said to wait until I got there because dental care is free there. So I waited. Had no time the first week I was there, but my 1 week tour ran 10 months. Three months in, I burnt my tongue on some food & was amazed because I had been eating everything lukewarm to avoid abscess pain. That night, I tried icecream. No pain! I got an x-ray. No abscess.
But then I came home. A couple months in, my tooth began to hurt again. I compared the toothpaste tube of stuff from there with what I used here.
Only difference was stuff here had no Triclosan. So I searched and found Total.
Pain went away.
Now I am really worried because they have taken out the Triclosan & replaced it with Stanous Flouride.
Great. Increase a known toxin while removing a truly helpful active ingredient.

Michael Patrick Morrison
October 5, 2019 12:15 pm

Very well covered article. It comes down to this, hydro-fluoro-silicic-acid which is sodium fluoride is a toxic poison. It is the main ingredient in rat poison. That should tell you enough! if not, just know that they added sodium fluoride or hydrofluorosilicic acid in the Camps for the Jews in Germany. They found that adding sodium fluoride in the Camps caused a docile effect in those who are fluoridated. University recently found that hydrofluorosilicic acid reduces the IQ by up to 20 points. calcium fluoride is good for your teeth that is not added to your toothpaste or your drinking water. You are all being poisoned. any of the articles that were mentioned above about the dangers and mini thyroid problems people are having as well as dental fluorosis. Your concern here is there is no control of how much fluoride somebody can consume by how much is in the drinking water. Don’t forget you are showering in it as well. countries do not add it to their drinking water because they know it’s a poison. Our cities are being paid a handsome amount of money to dump this toxic waste into the drinking water as we are the filters.

John van den heuvel
October 2, 2019 10:49 pm

Also do you know the difference between sodium fluoride and calcium fluoride? Calcium fluoride is found in groundwater naturally. Sodium fluoride is aluminum and industrial fertilizer waste! Your mouth absorbs it into your body and it also calcifies your pinel gland(third eye)……..

John van den heuvel
October 2, 2019 10:41 pm

Did you know Hitler used sodium fluoride on the jews to make them weak and docial?

Herman Johnson
July 24, 2019 4:26 pm

From what I learned from life, which is hard to do now days, was to eat the veggies that grow on the land from which you get your well water. What you didn’t receive from the water, one could get from the veggies. Now days most people don’t grow their own veggies and don’t drink well water.

July 17, 2019 6:11 pm

Calcium Fluoride is good for you. Sodium Fluoride does have toxic side effects. If all tooth paste had calcium fluoride we would not be having this discussion. Even the toothpaste box warns against toothpaste ingestion especially by young children. The toxic side effects exist. We need to switch to Calcium Fluoride. Perhaps the pharmaceutical industry is more interested in profits and less interested in health.

May 21, 2019 2:35 pm

How could it strengthen bones if fluorine is seeking to bind to calcium/magnesium? Wouldn’t it do just the opposite? I’ve been researching a lot on the dangers of hydrofluoric acid – the dangerous part is when the fluorine rapidly binds calcium/magnesium in the blood, leading to cardiac arrest. So while this isn’t as obviously dangerous, isn’t it still very slowly doing the same thing – hence, more of an effect on the bones than the blood?

mrs D
April 1, 2019 12:28 am

it also depends on the form of the mineral FLUORINE that we are taking in. fluorIDE and FluorINE are slightly different. Fluorine can be found in seafood, and is a good natural trace mineral we can use. It isn’t an industrial byproduct. So i think that matters.

February 20, 2019 2:48 am

If sodium flouride is so good for your teeth as they say, then why does it say on the tube if swallowed contact poison control immediately. Its a toxin that had been banned in 17 countries but of course our glorious FDA says it’s perfectly safe , well if it’s so safe feed that crap to your family enjoy your flouride uptake. It’s all about quarterly profits & keeping the public dumbed down literally. Sodium flouride outright promotes poor teeth & gum issues. Here’s a simple question, when do Dr’s & pharmaceutical companies make money they make money when your sick or hurt & so if they can deceive the population into believing their lies the Dr’s & dentist will make lot’s of money. Unfortunately these certified drug pushers were trained by design not by choice and when you try to educate them they no nothing & laugh at you, that’s when I tell them your fired & walk out of their office, preach your Bullshit on your own family see how their health diminishes over time. All you have to do is type in the words Harvard & flouride & read away. Hopefully you can critically think for yourself & come up with your own conclusions that is if your not part of the walking dead culture and are completely brainwashed

John Van den heuvel
October 2, 2019 10:53 pm
Reply to  Jon

Well said Jon

February 17, 2019 8:05 pm

Sodium Fluoride is POISON!!!

martin king
December 22, 2018 8:04 am

If you think the establishment care so much for you’re teeth as to add a classified neuro toxin into the public drinking water….. good luck.

John Phillips
September 5, 2018 8:14 pm

I found out a while ago that fluoride is harmful to the body, and the government don’t want people to know, the pharmaceutical system is built on making us sick with medicines that have bad side effects then when a problem arises from taking that medication, they give you another medication that has a complete difference set of new side effects this is how the pharmaceuticals make money, its dirty and deceitful, and that’s just one of the secrets they have.

Janet Pissa
August 19, 2018 12:03 pm

Hi, Thank you for sharing your experiences with fluoride. It is something that I didn’t give much importance to until a decade ago when I started with Hypothyroidism symptoms. I started researching everything to try to help myself it is such a controversial subject here in the UK. I then found out that fluoride was one of the worst things for the thyroid. It is almost impossible to stop all fluoride so many things are contaminated with it, {even bars of chocolate}. But I did change my toothpaste. Hallelulujah! It is the best thing I have ever done for my teeth if nothing else! I now only use fluoride free toothpaste it as made such a great difference I could shout it from the rooftops. No more cavities no more brown speckles. We are short of Dentists in the UK and I can’t really afford them anyway so this is the best thing that ever happened to me.

January 14, 2019 7:38 am
Reply to  Janet Pissa

Hi! I just fallow the conversation. Did you see an improvement with you thyroid after stopping fluoride toothpaste?

August 16, 2018 6:34 am

Dental care is very important to children. And dental habits should put in them at their young age so when they won’t have major problems with their teeth. Making them used to having regular visit with the dentist is also something that they can bring up when they live by themselves.

July 16, 2018 12:08 am

I am currently reading The Flouride Deception. It is a definitely eye opening book on how our government has duped us into believing fluoride in our water, is safe. Flouride is a toxin. End of story.

mauro gallegos
September 5, 2018 8:18 pm
Reply to  Mary

Don’t trust the government they really don’t care about the citizens and care more about money and profits, plus they have alot of other dirty secrets that some people know about. Keep researching truth because this world is sadly built on a leaning tower of lies and deception.

June 12, 2018 4:21 pm

so, wait, the original study saw that an area with fluoridated water had less patients with cavities and that was a conclusion????
Could it have been perhaps something else??
Is this real??
I thought controlled experiments were the way to discover the effects of something. So if I said hey, less people have lung cancer in an area that fluoridates water, does that mean it can help cure cancer too??

Can someone explain to me about alluminium production then because I was led to believe fluoride is produced from a by product of producing alluminium.

John Carter
May 25, 2018 11:38 am

Great article thank you. I’m very new to this whole Fluoride thing, but after hearing some chatter about fluoride I started researching it a little and that’s when I saw that my daughters toothpaste was Sodium Fluoride the only listed ingredient on the tube. I immediately looked up the MSDS for Sodium Fluoride that was enough for me. I work in the Restoration Industry and use chemicals and solutions on a daily and always train our crews in the proper reading of MSDS, how to apply and most importantly the proper PPE to use. The First thing I saw when looking at the MSDS for Sodium Fluoride was a NFPA diamond rating in the Health(blue section)was the number 3 that should say something.

June 3, 2019 5:58 pm
Reply to  John Carter

I just looked it up…and what you just posted for those who don’t know…means that this is in the Blue part of the Diamond of Hazardous materials. The higher the number ( 0-4 ), the more toxic it is! The definition of Blue 3 says “Extreme Danger!” With 4 bring “DEADLY!” Thank you, John! I appreciate your post & am glad I looked it up! Take good care!

February 7, 2018 7:00 am

Thank you for your well considered and impartial article. Very helpful 🙂

Sadie Cornelius
February 7, 2018 1:38 pm
Reply to  Katrina

Katrina, thanks for the kind words and glad you enjoyed reading!

October 9, 2017 12:51 pm

Sodium fluoride does nothing to protect your teeth. In fact it hastens tooth decay. It also contributes to osteoporosis as well. The only fluoride that has any benefit to your teeth is calcium fluoride which is found in well and stream water. Calcium fluoride is the only fluoride that is found in nature. Here’s why. The fluorine atom prefers to bond with calcium but will bond with other atoms if calcium is not available. Here’s the problem though. The fluorine atom will gladly exchange whatever it is bonded with if calcium ever becomes available. Hence why sodium fluoride will destroy your teeth and bones. It is basically robbing your body of it’s calcium stores to bond with the calcium in your body. Your dentist has no idea about this as that is how he or she has been trained. Hence why they are a proponent of sodium fluoride. As for how calcium fluoride protects your teeth, it does so by building up on the outside of your teeth. Not very sightly by modern standards.

December 18, 2017 2:45 pm
Reply to  Euhill

You are exactly correct. Our saliva remineralizes our teeth, not this poison.

Jesse Galton
January 3, 2017 10:24 pm

I’ve learned and live by the notion that fluoride causes calcification of the pineal gland which produces di-methyltriptamine (DMT). This chemical is what is commonly referred to in science as ‘the spirit molecule.’ It is known that Natives, from arguably every continent, have extracted this chemical, from plants of their area that are of high potency of DMT and consume it through various methods, the most common being ahuyusca tea, then proceed to have, rated as the most psychonautical trip of all psycho-inducing chemicals. It is also noted that every living being, plant and animal alike, produce this chemical naturally and that one receives a large dose upon birth and again at death.
*open for discussion

John Van den heuvel
October 2, 2019 11:05 pm
Reply to  Jesse Galton

Excellent Jesse , thank you

June 3, 2019 6:05 pm
Reply to  Jesse Galton

I have read the Exact Same thing!

December 18, 2017 2:47 pm
Reply to  Jesse Galton

Sodium fluoride no, calcium fluoride yes. Sodium fluoride is a horrific poison.

January 22, 2018 10:23 am
Reply to  Barbara

Calcium yes; sodium is in everything – no use in taking more.
Fluoride is a nasty industrial waste product, from aluminium and uranium rod manufacture. Can’t see what long term use fluoride could have in any carbon based life form.
Fluoride was used in nazi prison camps, in the water – they found they needed 1 guard in stead of 4, if they doped the prisoners water with fluoride. 3 issues solved.