What’s all the fuss about fluoridation?
For a process that was embraced by the rest of the country 50 years ago, with no audible regrets, it’s stirring up a cauldron of controversy here in Utah.
Opponents pin everything from hip fractures to cancer to brain damage on fluoride, but numerous studies since the 1950s reveal no evidence of these links, with the possible exception of hip fractures in the elderly. The benefits of fluoride, on the other hand, are impossible to refute. Local dentists say they can tell customers from Brigham City, one of only two Utah cities where the water supply is fluoridated, from Loganites as soon as they look in their mouths.
The strongest argument in the anti-fluoride camp is that of free choice. Right now, people who want fluoridated water can buy fluoride tablets at a minimal price. But if fluoride were put in the water supply, those who didn’t want it would have to buy bottled water or expensive filters.
Still, we believe this is a case of the greater good of society outweighing the rights of the few. Better oral hygiene means fewer visits to the dentist and lower insurance rates for everyone.
And while it’s easy to argue that responsible parents can buy fluoride tablets, we’ll wager not too many parents – especially lower income or poorly educated ones – take the trouble.
For an extremely minimal cost – 50 cents per person per year – our children can have stronger, healthier teeth. It’s worth it.
The issue will be on the ballot in Logan and Nibley this November, and the anti-fluoridation folks will be out in full force until then. Consider their arguments, but also consider that fluoridation is endorsed by the American Dental Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services. Keep in mind that the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and a Congressional subcommittee have all reviewed the studies and given fluoride the green light.
Then, ask your dentist.