I write to you as a dentist in support of Measure W – Yes to safe drinking water. I am concerned for the health of our community, my patients, my 23-month-old son, my wife, myself and our environment.
In my practice, unfortunately I see a significant number of children with signs of excess fluoride ingestion or fluorosis, tooth decay and gum disease. I will state why, regardless of opinion of institutionalized public health policy of water fluoridation, you may want to vote yes on Measure W. In addition, as a dentist, I intend to share important information regarding total exposure to ingested fluoride.
If you drink Arcata tap water, please take this into consideration: The chemicals used to fluoridate water have never been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Even more shocking is that even the flouride drops or pills I can prescribe (must be prescribed because they are too dangerous for over-the-counter sales) have never been approved for safety and effectiveness by the FDA. As with all medication, the providers of Arcata’s sodium fluoride (primarily Solvay Chemicals, Inc.) should be required to prove this substance is safe in front of the FDA.
Generally, the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for testing our drinking water. However, because sodium fluoride is being used as a medication to treat humans, it falls under the jurisdiction of the FDA. In 2000, the FDA’s response to questions posed by the subcommittee of the House Committee on Science stated, “No new drug applications have been approved or rejected for fluoride drugs meant for ingestion.”
The FDA classifies fluorides for ingestion as experimental new drugs. Measure W requires the manufacturers of these drugs to prove safety and effectiveness to the FDA. At this point, batch testing is also not required. Such testing would reveal if a substance is free of excess contamination. Measure W would require it.
Take a look at the Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. William Herzy, Senior VP, Headquarters Union, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated “In summary, we hold that fluoridation is an unreasonable risk. That is, the toxicity of fluoride is so great and the purported benefits associated with it are so small-if there are any at all-that requiring every man woman and child in America to ingest it borders on criminal behavior on the part of governments.”
Opponents of Measure W have argued that there have never been contaminants found in the Arcata water. They may not realize that most contaminate testing is done at the source, before the fluoride compounds are added. Measure W would make our water much safer because it would require the chemicals to be tested by the manufacturer before they are delivered and added to the water. It is much more difficult to find a contaminant once it has been diluted.
Next I would like to discuss total fluoride exposure and fluoride dosing. Back in the 1950s dentists believed you needed to swallow fluoride in order to get the benefit. Today however, most dental researchers agree fluoride’s primary benefit is topical (via direct contact with the teeth, not from ingestion).
In regard to flouride supplements, the ADA Guide to Dental Therapeutics states, “The actual dose for each patient must be individualized depended on the patient’s weight, age, physical status and other dietary sources of fluoride intake.”
In addition, “These supplements are for children only. There is no dose for adult or geriatric patients.” Yet when an adult consumes eight glasses of fluoridated water they ingest two milligrams of fluoride medication.
Most importantly, there is no recommended fluoride supplementation for children less than six months old. Former fluoride supporter and head of the Department of Preventative Dentistry of Toronto and President of the Canadian Association for Dental Research Dr. Hardy Limeback, Ph.D. in Biochemistry goes further by stating, “Children under three should never use fluoridated toothpaste or drink fluoridated water and baby formula must never be made using fluoridated tap water. Never.”
For children six months to three years, the recommended dose is .25 mg, the amount in one cup of fluoridated tap water. For three- to six-year-olds, .5 mg or two cups of tap water. For six- to 16-year-olds, one mg or four cups of fluoridated tap water.
Any increased consumption of tap water is a greater dose of fluoride than any dentist or physician can prescribe. This does not take into consideration other sources of flouride including bottled drinks, processed foods, or topical dental products swallowed (example: toothpaste). Is delivery through public water supply a safe way to administer a medication where the dose is so important and individual?
In closing, I say let the facts declare themselves. Measure W merely requires FDA approval for the safety and effectiveness of additives in the water that we all want to feel safe drinking. I also encourage all citizens to further educate themselves, and to exercise the choice of what medications we ingest. A great place to start is arcatasafewater.org.
Remember; vote Yes on Measure W, Safe Water for all. Let’s focus as a community on a choice for true health, and true health care.
Dr. Brian J. Smith is a dentist practicing in Eureka for the last five years. He lives in Bayside, receives Arcata City water, but cannot vote on Measure W because his residence is outside the city limits. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the California Dental Association and the local Humboldt-Del Norte Dental Society. He is a member of the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine, and a Fellow of the Institute of Natural Dentistry.