Flouride: healthy tooth supplement or poisonous mind control agent?
Many of the conspiracies and urban myths that we’ve discussed here have been rather grand in scope: Ancient monuments built by aliens, the assassinations of world leaders, monstrous prehistoric beasts, secret world-dominating cabals that may or may not be full of lizard people. But not all conspiracies are massive or fantastical, some of them center on exceptionally common substances, which, in all likelihood, you probably shoved into your mouth this very morning.
First off, let’s get the simple stuff out of the way: What is flouride? Well, it’s a chemical, but don’t let that scare you. Despite fear-mongering in certain quarters, there’s nothing inherently bad about chemicals. In fact, pretty much everything you eat is a chemical, or loaded up with them. There are chemicals that do good things, chemicals that do bad things and ones that do both. The question of where flouride falls is at the heart of the debate about putting it in our water supply.
Flouride’s benefits aren’t really up for discussion. Put simply, ingesting flouride prevents cavities. Full stop. In fact, even if you live in a place where your water isn’t flouridated, chances are that you’re consuming it anyway via your toothpaste, unless you’ve taken special pains to find a brand that omits this particular ingredient. And if you did? Well, you’re missing out on some valuable stuff, as, once again, flouride has been proven to strengthen tooth enamel, preventing cavities – especially in children – and in some cases, even strengthening chompers that have already begun to decay.
Well…that’s the general consensus at least. As in most things in modern life, there is a vocal minority claiming that despite decades of scientific evidence, both in the laboratory as well as out in the world, flouride does not, in fact, prevent cavities. Some critics also make a softer version of this claim, stating that flouridated water is no more effective at strengthening enamel than toothpaste with flouride in it. At that point, the argument becomes one of whether cavities should be seen as a public health concern that the government treats with flouridated water or a private one that individuals handle with toothpaste. Your opinion on that is probably dictated by your political leanings.
But misgivings about flouride, and flouridated water specifically, don’t just end with questions about its efficacy. There have been conspiracies about and opposition to water flouridation going all the way back to the 1940s. At the time, America was embroiled in the “Red Scare,” and some folks saw leering communist threats pretty much everywhere they looked, including the plan to flouridate water in order to prevent cavities in children.
Some individuals on the far right, hearing of a plan to put chemicals into the water supply, decided that the most likely explanation was, of course, a communist plot and part of a push toward socialized medicine under President Truman. They also protested universal vaccinations and broader mental health services – initiatives that still face opposition from misinformed quarters today.
But the conspiracy theories didn’t just stop there. Some flouride truthers maintained that water flouridation wasn’t just a push toward pinko socialized medicine, but part of a plot to institute mind control programs or, at the very least, to outright poison Americans. Who was behind these plots depended on who you asked, and might include a New World Order, the United Nations, the Soviet Union or perhaps, all three working in concert against good, God-fearing Americans.
Despite there being no evidence of flouride’s mind control properties and the conspiracy theories about the chemical having been lambasted in films including Dr. Strangelove and In Like Flint, the rumors and misinformation persisted. Interestingly, however, many of the more bizarre claims about flouride, ones that began with the far right, have since been adopted by groups on the left, once again mirroring the strange, shifting, misinformed opposition to mass vaccinations for devastating, practically eradicated diseases like polio and smallpox.
A separate, but parallel theory about flouride is that water flouridation was perpetrated as a distraction. The thinking goes that in the wake of manufacturing based flouride pollution, fat cat kings of industry hatched a plan to make the public start thinking that the chemicals they’ve been pumping into the environment are actually good for them. This line of thought is predicated upon the idea that flouride, whether beneficial to your teeth or not, is, at its root, poisonous.
And this is where a lot of confusion comes in, because it’s true: flouride can kill you. There’s no way around it. In high enough quantities, flouride is lethally toxic. But do you know what else can kill you if you consume enough of it? Potassium, salt, and even water. There’s a reason people say that “the dose makes the poison,” because too much of practically anything in too short a time can end up exceeding your body’s ability to process it. But that certainly doesn’t mean that you should cut potassium, salt, water, and yes, flouride, out of your diet completely.
The United States Department of Agriculture suggests a maximum daily flouride intake of about 10mg. That sounds like a very, very small amount to end up being dangerous, but there are a couple things you should keep in mind regarding that dosage. First off, in order to be lethal, flouride would need to be administered in a dose 500 to 1,000 times that daily intake. Second, in order to exceed that daily intake through flouridated water alone, you would need to consume 10 liters of agua, which is a lot, even on a hot day. So, let us do the math for you: In order to die of flouridated water consumption, you would have to drink 5,000 to 10,000 liters of it and probably pretty quickly.
Of course, diehard believers in a flouride-based conspiracy will maintain that the groups giving us this information – the US Department of Agriculture, scientists, researchers, etc. – are, at best, patsies and, at worst, complicit in whatever wicked scheme lurks in the shadows. There’s no way to definitively prove that they aren’t part of some massive NWO-based conspiracy, of course, but there’s also no real reason to believe that they are.
What do you think? Is flouride a healthy, valuable supplement, great for promoting dental health, especially in poor areas? Or, is it a poisonous piece of a nefarious plot? Tell us in the comments below!
Aubrey Sitterson is the creator of SKALD, the ongoing sword & sorcery serial podcast, available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher & Podomatic. Follow him on Twitter or check out his website for more information.
Source: Science – Geek.com