Singapore adopted fluoridation of our drinking water in 1954, as part of public health intervention to lower tooth decay for our children (“Water fluoridation safe, with dental benefits”; Aug 25, 2012).
On Aug 26 last year, Israel declared the end of mandatory fluoridation of drinking water, and joined the vast majority of countries in the world in which fluoridation is not mandatory.
According to data from the World Health Organisation, there has been a decline in tooth decay in countries that did not fluoridate their drinking water.
There is also scientific evidence that fluoride in large amounts can damage one’s health.
In the United States, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Environmental Protection Agency have stated that children aged eight and younger, when exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride, show an increased chance of developing pits in their teeth’s enamel.
Excessive consumption of fluoride over a lifetime may also increase the likelihood of bone fractures in adults. Whether there is a high risk of this in Singapore remains unknown until further local research is done.
There may be concern by governments that have adopted fluoridation that their citizens are not getting enough fluoride.
However, proper nutrition, adhering to the rules for brushing one’s teeth twice a day with toothpaste containing fluoride, and regularly visiting the dentist can be mitigating strategies.
In addition, due to increased health awareness of drinking water free of chlorine and fluoride, many households, thanks to water filters, are already consuming unfluoridated water.
It is time for the Ministry of Health to review the appropriate and safe level of fluoride in our water supply, and to reconsider if Singapore should continue with its water fluoridation.
When fluoride is supplied via drinking water, there is no control over the amount of fluoride actually consumed, which might lead to excessive consumption.