Deep Thoughts on Fluoride, Otosclerosis, and Sleep Apnea
October 14, 2011
Otosclerosis is a relatively common condition we see in our field, typically leading to early hearing loss. It leads to stiffening of one of the middle ear bones (the stapes), preventing sound waves from reaching the inner ear. Surgery can result in a dramatic hearing improvement. Over the past few decades, it’s been noted by prominent otologists that the rate of otosclerosis has dramatically declined, presumably due to fluoride supplementation in our water supply. This element is thought cause increased resorption of bone, and cause early maturation and calcification. One of the conservative treatments for otosclerosis is to give fluoride tablets.
I was thinking if fluoride can affect the middle ear bones, can’t it also affect a developing fetus or infant’s jaw development? Premature hardening and early maturation could lead to suboptimal jaw growth, which can predispose to obstructive sleep apnea. This is in addition to all the other various risk factors that can prevent proper jaw development (soft food consistency, bottle-feeding, etc.). Almost every younger patient I see today has significant dental crowding and narrowed arches. Having smaller jaws leaves less room for your regular sized tongue and other soft tissues of the throat, leading to more frequent breathing problems while you sleep. No wonder why most modern humans these days can’t sleep on their backs.
Sure enough, if you comb through the research literature, there are a number of studies that directly or indirectly support my suspicion. For example, rats fed fluoride were found to have significantly diminished horizontal mandibular dimensions. Another study showed that addition of sodium fluoride to explants of embryonic rat palates lead to retardation of the palatal shelf growth and lack of fusion. I’m sure there are dozens, if not hundreds of other similar commonly used chemicals that can retard proper growth and development in all age groups.
Doing some more research on the internet, there seems to be a growing grass-roots movement to remove fluoride from our drinking water. Here’s a site that lists 50 reasons why fluoride is dangerous to our health. One of their main arguments is that the original studies cited to make the argument for adding fluoride were flawed and that there’s no convincing proof that it prevents dental caries. I take all these arguments with a grain of salt, but these are serious issues that need further discussion. I always wondered why a dangerous chemical that I used in my organic chemistry class is so commonly used for every-day purposes (water, toothpaste, etc.).
Am I being overly paranoid, or is there some merit to this argument?