Proponents of community water fluoridation like to say, ad nauseum, that there are “60 years of research behind” one of the “top advancements in public health in the past century.” There are not 60 years of research; there are 60 years of endorsements.
The American Dental Association (ADA) is a trade organization, whose money comes from member dues, and, largely, from endorsements. Their biggest endorsement is the ADA “seal of approval” on fluoridated toothpaste (which I have no argument with: fluoride does work topically to harden the dental enamel of those at risk for cavities). Some people construe that the ADA supports fluoridation in any form. However, the ADA has very clearly stated that fluoride is BAD for infants, and that formula-fed infants should ONLY consume formula mixed with unfluoridated bottled water. How much sense does that make? Dental caries is largely a socio-economic disease. Dentists don’t like to service Medicaid patients. The poor are much more likely to suffer from caries. How likely is it that they will buy bottled water to mix with their baby formula? So, let’s be clear about the claims: the ADA ensorses fluoride — it is NOT a body of research scientists and it most certainly has no credentials as a group toxicology experts. The definitive fluoride toxicology study, a 506 page document published in March of 2006 by the National Academy of Science (the United Nations of scientists) National Research council, is a compilation of all the available and credible evidence on the toxicology of fluoride. Twelve high level, hand-picked, elite research scientists spent 3 years looking at all the research on fluoride, and cited those studies that met strict criteria: peer-reviewed, published documentation of fluoride damage to brain and nerves, the immune system, the endocrine system (particularly the thyroid gland), the renal system and the skeletal system. The results are sobering and a strong recommendation against mass fluoridation.
REVIEW OF THE 2006 UNITED STATES NATIONAL RESEARCHCOUNCIL REPORT:FLUORIDE IN DRINKING WATERRobert J CartonSUMMARY: The recent report by a 12-member committee of the US NationalResearch Council (NRC) examined the scientific basis for the Maximum ContaminantLevel Goal (MCLG) of fluoride in drinking water promulgated in 1985 by the USEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA). Due to misdirection by EPA management,who requested the report, the NRC committee identified only health effects knownwith total certainty. This is contrary to the intent of the Safe Drinking Water Act(SDWA), which requires the EPA to determine “whether any adverse effects can bereasonably anticipated, even though not proved to exist.” Further misdirection byEPA consisted of instructing the committee not to identify a new MCLG—in otherwords, not to determine a safe level of fluoride in drinking water, and not to discuss silicofluorides, phosphate fertilizer manufacturing by-products used in most cities to fluoridate their water. Despite these restrictions, the committee broke new ground declaring severe dental fluorosis and moderate (stage II) skeletal fluorosis adverse health effects, and by noting that the current standard of 4 mg F/L in drinking water does not protect against bone fractures or severe dental fluorosis. Silicofluorides were said to need health effects testing. The NRC review includes extensive information on other possible health effects of fluoride, such as endocrine effect sand effects on the brain. On the basis of this information and the proper interpretation of the SDWA, the following are all adverse health effects: moderate dental fluorosis, stage I skeletal fluorosis (arthritis with joint pain and stiffness), decreased thyroid function, and detrimental effects on the brain, especially in conjunction with aluminum. The amount of fluoride necessary to cause these effects to susceptible members of the population is at or below the dose received from current levels of fluoride recommended for water fluoridation. The recommended Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for fluoride in drinkingwater should be zero.
Fluoridation proponents fret that dental decay will skyrocket once the (absurd) practice of community water fluoridation ceases. Here are five peer-reviewed studies which proove that, in communities who ceased fluoridation, no increase in dental decay rates was observed. In fact, in 4 out of 5, decay rates improved! I challenge fluoridation proponents to find compelling, recent, evidence that cessation of fluoridation actually does wreak havoc on people’s teeth.
Kunzel W, Fischer T (2000). Caries prevalence after cessation of water fluoridation in La Salud, Cuba. Caries Research 34:20-5
Kunzel W, Fischer T, Lorenz R, Bruhmann S (2000). Decline of caries prevalence after the cessation of water fluoridation in the former East Germany. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 28:382-9
Seppa L, Karkkainen S, Hausen H (2000). Caries Trends 1992-1998 in Two Low-Fluoride Finnish Towns Formerly With and Without Fluoridation. Caries Research 34: 462-468
Burt BA, et al. (2000). The effects of a break in water fluoridation on the development of dental caries and fluorosis. J Dent Res. 79(2):761-9
Maupome G, Clark DC, Levy SM, Berkowitz J (2001). Patterns of dental caries following the cessation of water fluoridation. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 29:37-47
From The Juneau Empire, August 15, 2007
Fluoridated water isn’t the answer to dental caries
When I joined the mayoral commission to study the issue of municipal water fluoridation in 2004, I was fairly certain adding fluoride to city water was not the best approach to dental health.
I also had some concerns about the ethics and safety of adding a medicine and waste product to the water system, which virtually forces everyone to consume, bathe in and breathe it. After three years of study, my stance has evolved to a deeper and more urgent level of concern.
For those who believe they, or their children, need fluoride – it’s everywhere! Almost all canned foods have high levels of fluoride. Virtually all toothpastes contain fluoride. Your dentist can apply fluoride to your teeth. Public health will give out sodium fluoride tablets and drops for free. Grapes, corn, chicken, fish, tea are all high in fluoride. Fluoride is not a necessary element for human life. In fact, in relatively small doses, it is toxic. Remember, fluoride accumulates. About 50 percent of all the fluoride you have ever ingested is still in your body and will remain there, in the bones, in the kidneys, in the brain and, yes, on your teeth. This is likely the way fluoride confers long-term damage to susceptible individuals.
Fluoridation advocates cite “60 years of public health research” to support the idea. About 60 years ago it was noted that areas of the country (Colorado and Texas) where aquifer-derived water was naturally high in fluoride, kids had more dental fluorosis (permanent dental staining) and, arguably, fewer cavities. This naturally occurring fluoride is calcium fluoride, which is almost insoluble, meaning it doesn’t bind well to internal tissues, such as bones and kidneys.
The soluble chemical, sodium fluoride, which is what is typically added to city water, is considered more toxic than lead and almost as toxic as arsenic, in comparable amounts. Sodium fluoride is 20 times more toxic than the naturally occurring calcium fluoride. The lethal dose for calcium fluoride in humans is 5,000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. The lethal dose of sodium fluoride in humans is 250 mg per kg of body weight.
No studies on the toxicology of sodium fluoride in humans were undertaken at the beginning of the fluoridation experiment in 1945, nor have any such studies been conducted since.
Can you imagine our government in 2007 mandating the addition of another biologically active substance to everyone’s water supply – with no safety data, only marginal efficacy data and amidst a good deal of public protest? Can we learn anything from the fact that all of the European Union countries (except Ireland and parts of England) have rejected fluoridation?
Fluoridation proponents claim a 20 to 40 percent improvement in dental caries (cavities) rates in fluoridated cities. This is based on a small portion of one study of about 39,000 school children that followed dental caries rates in 1986-87. Only about 8,000 of these children fit the forgone conclusion (fluoridation is good), while the data from the other 31,000 children was rejected.
In reality, caries rates are no different in fluoridated versus nonfluoridated communities. To list just one (of many) references making this point is Yiamouyiannis JA (1990) “Water Fluoridation and Tooth Decay: Results from the 1986-87 National Survey of U.S. Schoolchildren,” Fluoride, 23, 55-67, which analyzes the data from all 39,000 children. Since 1990, 149 communities in North America (including Juneau) have discontinued fluoridation of their water.
Fluoride is clearly not the answer to dental caries. Overall, as oral hygiene has improved, the general trend for caries rates continues downward, regardless of fluoridation status. A huge amount of early childhood caries is caused by bottle feeding with high-sugar formula or juices, in which these sugary liquids sit on the teeth and literally make them rot. Sugary drinks also cause obesity and diabetes. Adding fluoride to the water is not the solution to any of our public health problems.
Part of the solution is to take as much personal responsibility for your health as possible. Stay informed and make choices.