The city council in Portland is determined to order the fluoridation of the water on which Portland and surrounding cities depend. In most of the mid-valley we had this debate years ago, and more recently in Philomath. In Albany the water has been fluoridated for longer than anyone can remember. So you would think the evidence of its benefits would be in.
But if there is any evidence, it is not at all clear and easy to see.
The proponents always point that hundreds of studies show that fluoridation prevents tooth decay. So how come dentists are still in business in towns where the water has been fluoridated for decades, like in Albany?
The short answer is that fluoride prevents tooth decay to a degree, but whether it does so in your mouth depends on a lot of other things or factors, which probably include your genes, your upbringing and your habits.
Plugging for fluoridation, Portland Mayor Sam Adams says among other things that “it reduces cavities by at least 25 percent in adults and children over and above brushing/flossing and access to dental health care.”
So instead of four cavities, you get three. Instead of 10, you get seven. And if you get to be old and have bad teeth, instead of losing most of them, you lose more than half. Your mouth is in rotten shape either way.
Experience suggests that good nutrition and dental hygiene, as well as excellent dental care, are the main ingredients that now give most younger people such sparkling smiles.
From the evidence of continued tooth decay in some people, one is led to conclude that adding fluoride to the water has relatively little to do with excellent teeth — or just about 25 percent. (hh)