I was alarmed to read recently that a councillor in Tottenham has questioned the benefits of fluoridation of public water supplies and is advocating its removal.
The councillor has gone on record with media suggesting that fluoride is ineffective and negatively affects human health. As president of the Ontario Dental Association, I want to set the record straight on the overwhelming evidence of the safety and benefits of water fluoridation and the strong support it has from the scientific community and international health organizations.
To my knowledge, the vast majority of us do not have the expertise or knowledge-base to be forming opinions on fluoride. We must rely on our scientific experts for this.
According to a Health Canada report released in 2007 by a panel of independent medical experts, water fluoridation in the correct amount is both safe and effective. Furthermore, Health Canada’s website states they “support water fluoridation as a public health measure to prevent dental decay,” and that “the big advantage of water fluoridation is that it benefits all residents in a community regardless of age, socioeconomic status, education or employment.”
Toronto Public Health has reported that dental decay is the most frequent condition suffered by children other than the common cold and is one of the leading causes of absences from school.
The reality is that children today suffer from tooth decay at an alarming rate. Water fluoridation is a cost-effective preventive strategy that will provide protective measures to Ontarians, especially children, regardless of their economic position.
But if this isn’t enough evidence for you, international experts such as the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia have recognized the fluoridation of drinking water to prevent dental decay as “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
The U.S. Surgeon General also agrees: “Community water fluoridation continues to be the most cost-effective, equitable and safe means to provide protection from tooth decay in a community.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that “universal access to fluoride for dental health is a part of the basic human right to life.”
And finally, the American Dental Association estimates that every dollar invested in water fluoridation saves 38 dollars in dental costs.
These are the facts.