Residents packed the Manual Training Centre in Cranbrook on Thursday, Oct. 23, hoping to make up their minds about whether or not Cranbrook should continue with water fluoridation.
The 100 or so spectators showed up to watch a debate between Dr. Alastair Nicoll of the BC Dental Association, an area dentist and a supporter of fluoride in the water supply, and Dr. James Beck, Professor Emeritus for Medical Biophysics at the University of Calgary, co-author of “The Case Against Fluoride,” and an advocate for ceasing fluoridation.
The city is holding a referendum on the municipal election ballot asking “Are you in favour of Council adopting City of Cranbrook Cease Fluoridation Bylaw No. 3799, 2014, which authorizes stopping the addition of fluoride to the municipal water supply effective January 1, 2015?”
Dr. Beck said there is not a single randomized controlled trial that looks at water fluoridation’s effect on cavities.
“There have been a lot of investigations on fluoride, in terms of whether it’s effective or not, most are very bad,” he said, adding that investigations going back to 1945 haven’t shown efficacy, even though they are frequently cited. He said that two of those studies showed harm.
Beck said there was a World Health organization study. It looked at 18 countries from the 1960s to 2004 and showed a steady decrease in the prevalence of cavities.
“Promoters say well there’s your evidence — fluoridation prevents cavities,” Beck said. “But of those 18 countries, only four were fluoridated, 14 were not and you can’t distinguish between those.”
He said one of the reasons for the improvement is that people started using fluoride toothpaste. He said fluoridated water provides just topical treatment, and the residual fluoride that stays in the body is in quantities too low to have an effect on teeth.
“It’s not ethical to give a person a drug without having informed consent,” he said.
Dr. Nicoll said as a dentist he’s seen firsthand the devastating effects of dental caries and its impact. He said those affected the worst by caries are also the most vulnerable members of society, such as the old and young. He noted that decay from caries begins as soon as the first tooth erupts in a child’s mouth, well before they have their first visit to the dentist.
“Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that is used in ionic as a mineral nutrient, and like other mineral nutrients it can be toxic in ridiculously high doses,” Nichols said. “For instance, a person would have to consume 15,000 litres of water in one sitting to ingest an acutely fatal dose.”
He said the cost of the water-dosage is just $1 to $4 a year per person, while the cost of fluoride application twice a year can cost between $50 and $100 a year.
Nicoll said that 400 million people drink fluoridated water.
Back noted that of those 400 million, most are in the USA, which fluoridates almost 70 per cent of the population.
Beck also refuted the claim that fluoride is a nutrient, saying that it is a chemical that, in Cranbrook, is an industrial byproduct.