Valparaiso is looking at whether to continue fluoridating the city’s drinking water. The answer should be easy.
There are people who say fluoridation is bad for health. That’s true, if not done correctly.
But don’t discount the good that has been done by fluoridating water for Valparaiso’s past 60 years or so.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed fluoridation of drinking water as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Fluoride occurs naturally, to varying degrees, in drinking water. But boosting its level slightly helps improve dental health.
By strengthening the enamel, fluoride helps prevent cavities from forming.
Putting fluoride in the drinking water adds a long-lasting, low level of protection. Fluoride in other products, like toothpaste, adds to the protection.
There are health warnings about not swallowing toothpaste, and limiting the amount on a child’s toothbrush to the size of a pea, but not about drinking too much water.
Occasionally, someone complains to The Times or the water department about adding fluoride to the drinking water supply. Back when it was begun, in the height of the Cold War, some extremists considered it a communist conspiracy.
But then there are people who complain about vaccinations, too, and those are also on the CDC’s list of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Because of refusals to vaccinate children, based on junk science and parents’ fears about rare side effects, some childhood diseases that should have been eliminated in the United States long ago are making a comeback. The reason for developing those vaccines in the first place is now becoming apparent again.
Opponents of fluoridation will present science and junk science to support their case as Valparaiso goes through this review. Examine that evidence, but look also at the research that supports fluoridation at the great public health advance the CDC says it is.
Also, remember that people who don’t want fluoride added to their water can always filter the water to remove it. But people who do want it can’t add it on their own.
Don’t turn back time, and create more bad teeth, by stopping fluoridation.
Trust the CDC and continue to fluoridate Valparaiso’s drinking water appropriately.