As the Chief Dental Officer for Canada, I would like to highlight some of the many benefits of water fluoridation.
Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the level of fluoride in the water to provide dental health benefits. Many governments and health organizations, including Health Canada, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Dental Association, the Canadian Medical Association and the World Health Organization endorse the fluoridation of drinking water to prevent tooth decay. Community water fluoridation has been identified by U.S. Centers for Disease Control as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Canada has one of the best systems in the world to ensure water quality. Health Canada supports water fluoridation as a public health measure to prevent dental decay. Dental disease is the number one chronic disease among children and adolescents in North America; fluoridation can therefore be an important public health measure.
An expert panel was formed to provide Health Canada with advice and recommendations on the current state of relevant science with respect to the fluoridation of water. The report from the panel reinforces Health Canada’s position that water fluoridation is important from a public health perspective and that our position on water fluoridation is sound. The report’s recommendations are based on the latest science.
In undertaking the study, we consulted with a number of experts including scientists from the Universities of British Columbia, Toronto, Iowa; scientists from many areas of Health Canada; and also received input from the Canadian Dental Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and public health experts from Canada and the U.S.
The safety and efficacy of water fluoridation has been frequently studied and continues to be supported by current science. Canadian and international studies agree that water that was fluoridated at optimum levels does not cause adverse health effects. For example, an adult male would need to consume at least 15, 000 litres of water that is fluoridated at optimum levels continuously in one sitting to get an acute toxic (lethal) dose of fluoride.
There is also no evidence to suggest that children should avoid drinking fluoridated water at the accepted levels in Canadian drinking water supplies.
The big advantage of water fluoridation is that it benefits all residents in a community, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, education, or employment. Health Canada continues to support water fluoridation as a safe, cost effective public health measure, and encourages Canadians to review respected and credible sources of information to reach their own conclusions about water fluoridation.