Doctors and dentists used to believe that ingested fluoride was incorporated into developing teeth, but new research shows the chemical’s decay-fighting properties are provided only by surface contact with teeth, a doctor said Wednesday.
Dr. Donald Currie, director of pediatric rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, told a gathering of about 80 people at the VIA Community Center that fluoride may be good for teeth – in small doses already provided by fluoridated toothpaste.
But, he said, adding that he was not speaking for the science center, the chemical’s effect on bones and body organs has not been studied enough to assure its safety.
In fact, some recent studies indicate fluoridated water poses risks that may outweigh its benefits, he said.
The meeting was sponsored by a local group called “Don’t Drink the Water,” which opposes adding fluoride to drinking water.
San Antonio’s two major water providers, the San Antonio Water System and the Bexar Metropolitan Water District, began phasing in fluoridation of their drinking water supplies a week ago. Fluoridation is expected to be complete by next Thursday.
The move came after 52.6 percent of the voters approved fluoridation in a November 2000 referendum.
Currie said several studies show significant evidence that fluoride makes bones more brittle, risking debilitating hip fractures for the elderly. Studies also have linked fluoride to an increase in rare bone cancers and deaths from those cancers in males below age 20, he said.
And, he said, another study shows “a significant association” between high blood lead levels and public water supplies treated with fluorosilicic acid, the type of fluoride being added to San Antonio’s water supply.