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fluoride and thyroid
Medical grade materials are more expensive everywhere and have little to do with government meddling - they have to be far more robust, easier to clean, water-proofed, etc., than commercial products. Bugger the government, WE make it more expensive because we demand a higher standard (rightly) of manufacture for medical grade products - the only thing the governments do is set a safety standard for such things, nothing else. So parts and components are made to a higher standard, which adds expense - add to that the R&D that is slapped back into the price, and it goes up fast. Resmed and Philips charge what they do because of all the factors involved in coming up with and making the bloody things, plus a nice slice for profit, and then sell it to distributors who then add a margin as well. You want it cheaper? Get your government to install an NHS like system, where the government tells the manufacturers how much they can charge for their meds and wares in the UK, and then the end consumer will be less out of pocket. As it is, they stay the heck out of it, and so you have expensive devices. That is the harsh reality - it IS the capitalist system, the free market, that keeps these things expensive, because everyone all along the supply chain charges what they can get for their bits and bobs, and you are left out in the cold. Perhaps, in terms of CPAP, there were say 50 manufacturers competing with one another there would be a price war, but not when you have only 3 or 4. And if you did have so many manufacturers and a price war, I would think that a lot of the devices would be unsafe. Cutting corners is what kills people in our business.
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Doesn't fluoride have to be applied topically to get the dental benefit?
And oral intake doesn't provide this benefit?
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No, not really. It works both ways. The difference is one is more directly applied, the other works generally via bodily intake.
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Too much fluoride in the water will discolor teeth. I think that's the main reason for the recently lowered standards.

There are places where the natural levels of fluoride in the water supply are so high that people's teeth are discolored without any added fluoride. We have enough "natural" guinea pigs that we're petty familiar with the effects of excessive fluoride and the levels required to cause problems.

Let's not forget that tooth decay does kill. It can kill from directly causing an infection that spreads and kills you. It can also be a constant low level stress on the body, including some concerns about it being linked with with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and premature, low-weight births. There is also the more generic problems caused by tooth decay.

Consider if the situation were reversed. Suppose your "natural" water supply had fluoride in it and the local water supplier decided they'd start removing the fluoride as part of their water purification process. You'd probably be up in arms because of the damage done by removing fluoride from the water because it causes tooth decay and kills people.

You don't have to drink fluoridated water. If you don't want to drink the product provided by your local water supply that the rest of us want, buy bottled water or distilled water and use it. You might well decide you only want distilled water, or you only want natural spring water. Don't expect the rest of us to share your fringe science and put the kind of water you want into the local public water supply. Heck, you might decide that you want to keep kosher and will only drink water that hasn't had catfish swimming in it.

The anti-fluoride stuff mostly grew out of anti-communist hysteria that it was something the commies were doing to make us kill ourselves. Whatever else you might worry about with fluoride, it's apparently not working as well as Stalin hoped.

There are plenty of real risks out there. Fluoridation is pretty well understood, and any possible risks that we don't understand are pretty small and likely much less than the risk reduction by adding it.
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Here's a summary article:

Some excerpts from the article:

The US government has finally admitted they've overdosed Americans on fluoride and, for first time since 1962, are lowering its recommended level of fluoride in drinking water.1,2,3

...according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41 percent of American adolescents now have dental fluorosis.

If 40 percent of American teens have dental fluorosis, how many people suffer from skeletal fluorosis as a result of chronic fluoride overexposure? In one previous study, bone fracture rates also rose sharply with increasing severity of dental fluorosis.

You are beyond naïve if you believe that fluoride somehow selectively goes to your teeth when you swallow it. Rather, it accumulates throughout your body's bones and tissues. What little benefit fluoride may have is achieved through topical application.

Both the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have noted that there is no discernible difference in tooth decay between developed countries that fluoridate their water and those that do not.7

The decline in tooth decay the US has experienced over the last 60 years, which is often attributed to fluoridated water, has likewise occurred in all developed countries, most of which do not fluoridate their water.

...recent research showing adverse effects ranging from lowered IQ in children (found in no less than 43 studies), underactive thyroid,10 and ADHD.11

About 40 percent of American teens have dental fluorosis,4
In some areas, fluorosis rates are as high as 70-80 percent, with some children suffering from advanced forms.

Interestingly, a number of studies13,14,15,16 have specifically shown that children who have moderate or severe dental fluorosis score lower on tests measuring cognitive skills and IQ, suggesting that if 40 percent of our kids have fluorosis, the water fluoridation scheme in the US is likely affecting our children's IQ as well.

...the NRC report of 2006 stated18 for the first time that fluoride is an 'endocrine disruptor,' which means it has the potential to play havoc with the biology and fate of humans and animals.

...fluoride is a cumulative toxin, which over time can lead to serious health concerns, from hypothyroidism to skeletal fluorosis and much more. The neurological effects are particularly disconcerting. Even scientists from the EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory have classified fluoride as a "chemical having substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity."

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worn_out - other developed countries (Europe, South America) that do not add fluoride to their water use fluoridated salts - what is more interesting is to see that countries in the third world where fluoride toothpastes are available but neither fluoridated water nor fluoridated salts are used do not show the same figures for improvement in tooth decay that developed countries do. The WHO noted that one reason for the high tooth decay levels in developed countries was the heavily increase sugar intake and is a major reason why third world countries do not have as much of a battle as developed countries do against tooth decay (they don't have sugar in their diet in anywhere near the quantities that Americans do), but the question of improvement in either case shows that developed countries improved massively, despite the heavily increased sugar intake, and that is entirely due to fluoride and improved dental hygiene over the last 80 years. Granted there could be other factors at play, but it is still interesting, non? And just to put this in perspective, tooth decay was almost unknown in Elizabethan England - the idea that peasants had rotten teeth was and is a myth - they had no sugar at all in their diet, and beside the teeth being brown, as was everyone's to some extent (around the same colour as your dog's teeth to be precise) there was no real evidence of teenage tooth decay. So, you want to avoid the need for fluoride? Stay the heck away from sugar, and keep your kids away from it. In short, don't eat like a typical American.

In addition, if you look at a distribution map of where the increase in dental fluorosis happened in the US, there is a correspondence in many cases to regions where the water is naturally high in fluoride. Saying 40% of American teens have it is simply not a sufficient argument. There is the question as to where they live, how they look after their teeth, what other factors are in play. Not all regions add fluoride to their water, and not all regions sufficiently remove natural fluoride from their water. And we show the same figures for lowered cognitive skills form sugar based diets as the figures you mentioned, so I would again ask if those same kids in the figures you mention are mostly getting their nutrition from fizzy drinks, candy bars and MacDonald's. I'll bet we all know the answer to THAT one.

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