Edmonton has fluoride in its drinking water. Calgary does not. Take a wild guess which of the two cities’ children have more cavities?
If you said Calgary, you’d be wrong! Chew on that for a while. Despite continuing to have fluoride in their water, kids in Edmonton have more tooth decay than Calgary kids — in their baby teeth and their permanent teeth, says a University of Calgary study.
But, how can that be? Isn’t fluoride the wonder supplement that’s supposed to mean little kids will suffer less tooth decay? That’s what many proponents of adding fluoride to our drinking water would have you believe. They have also urged people to base their position on fluoridated water on scientific data. Finally, something we can agree on!
A 2016 U of C study called: Measuring the short-term impact of fluoridation cessation on dental caries in Grade 2 children using tooth surface indices shows that fluoride isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
You might have guessed by the above title, that this study isn’t exactly a page turner. You also might recall news coverage on this report. Pretty much the only thing mentioned in the past about this study was how there was an increase in primary tooth decay in both Edmonton and Calgary but “the magnitude of the increase was greater in Calgary” following the cessation of fluoride. What’s curious is why reporting on the study stopped there.
What was not widely published is that according to the very same study, the number of cavities in permanent teeth actually decreased in Calgary since fluoridation ended. You read that correctly. “For all tooth surfaces among permanent teeth, there was a statistically significant decrease in Calgary . . . which was not observed in Edmonton.” Interesting, isn’t it, that this juicy morsel from the report was never quoted?
So, let’s recap that last paragraph. Since May 2011, when fluoride was removed from Calgary’s drinking water but has remained in Edmonton’s water since 1967, there has been a “statistically significant decrease in Calgary” for all tooth surfaces among permanent teeth but the same decrease did not occur in Edmonton. Drink that in slowly.
Consider the following conclusion: “In permanent teeth, we elsewhere (in unpublished results) reported a decrease in caries over time in both Calgary (fluoride cessation) and Edmonton (fluoride continued), which was larger and more consistent in Calgary.” The rate of improvement was better in Calgary than Edmonton.
Yet there are those who want Calgarians heading to the polls on Oct. 16 to elect only candidates who will put fluoridation back on tap in Calgary. The group Calgarians for Kids’ Health presented anecdotal evidence of kids with tooth decay on Sept. 25, that included presenting a mother who said: “I have a four-and-a-half-year-old here and her teeth are falling out because she didn’t get fluoride from the day she was born.”
There is no reason why a young child’s teeth should be falling out unless poor diet, disease, or a lack of dental care exists.
The reason why fluoride was removed from Calgary’s drinking water in 2011 was because council was being asked to upgrade the fluoride-adding equipment at Calgary’s Glenmore and Bearspaw water treatment facilities — something that was expected to cost between $3 million to $6 million. In addition, the city spent $750,000 annually in operational costs. The debate ensued and freedom of choice to not be medicated through our water supply was rightly chosen by most of council.
Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann said recently that he’s “deeply disappointed by the level of misinformation and fear-mongering surrounding fluoridation. It flies in the face of 35 years of research that fluoride water treatment is a safe and effective way to protect our dental health.”
Swann and other proponents of fluoridation are trying to claim that the science is settled. But if you actually read recent studies about fluoridation, you will see that’s not the case. A very recent University of Toronto study is linking fluoride exposure in pregnant women to lower intelligence in their children. Another meta analysis from 2012 shows 27 other reports pointing to the same potential results.
If the science has been settled for 35 years, as Swann claims, why did medical experts recommend that fluoride in Calgary’s water and across North America be reduced from one part per million to 0.7 ppm in 1998? Why in 2006 did the American Dental Association recommend that parents not prepare baby formula with fluoridated water, something that the Centers for Disease Control still recommends? How can a scientist insist on medicating people when it’s impossible to regulate the dose?
“Collectively, the literature (including our study) indicates that the impact of fluoridation cessation on dental caries is not uniformly positive or negative, but varies by time and place and sorting out the reasons for different patterns is important,” states the U of C study.
Ingesting fluoride, rather than having it topically painted or swished around teeth, has been linked to other negative health effects including impacts to the thyroid, kidneys or bones. It’s not fear mongering.
I used to be one of those dismissive proponents of fluoride until my position was ripped out by the root when I realized fluoridated water harmed my children. Many Calgarians, including my sons, have evidence of fluorosis on their teeth. It’s evident every time they smile and that makes me frown. Those chalky white blotches and streaks on their teeth are not just cosmetic. It means that their bones have been affected after fluoride was literally forced down our throats.
*Original article online at http://calgaryherald.com/storyline/corbella-science-on-fluoride-still-not-settled
See also, a response to the University of Calgary study by McLaren et al: Limitations of fluoridation effectiveness studies: Lessons from Alberta, Canada, published October 10, 2017