WHEN trying to convince an audience of a dubious proposition, it’s likely not a good idea to unduly smear those who disagree — especially if they’re generally well-respected professionals — at least not without some convincing proof supporting those accusations.
Otherwise, you undercut your arguments and risk not being taken seriously.
Cape Breton Regional Municipality held a three-hour meeting earlier this week to hear from both sides before deciding whether to continue fluoridating municipal water supplies in the region.
So fluoride opponents did themselves no favours at the public session by apparently suggesting that doctors and dentists who back fluoridation are simply paid lackeys who do so without proper investigation.
Are Health Canada, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency — which have all broadly reviewed studies on water fluoridation and found the practice, at recommended low levels, to be both safe and beneficial — similarly not to be considered credible?
As we’ve noted before, the Canadian Cancer Society also backs fluoridation, though at the same time urging, reasonably enough, that levels be as low as possible while still providing dental health benefits.
Unlike Calgary, which earlier this year rashly dropped water fluoridation without allowing medical experts who opposed the decision to address council, CBRM wisely took its time on the issue and allowed for input, both pro and con, before opting to stick with fluoridation.
According to Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer, the only verified health issue with fluoride at the low levels found in water supplies is fluorosis, a cosmetic problem. Even that, he said, is uncommon in Canada.
Dr. Andrew Lynk, medical officer for the Cape Breton district health authority, made the excellent point that cherry-picking studies that oppose fluoride — some with serious design flaws, he suggested — does not have the same value as comprehensive reviews of research on the subject that have validated fluoride use.
CBRM also rejected holding a plebiscite on the question, which seems, given the tight financial circumstances facing governments these days, fiscally prudent.