Fluoride Action Network

Guest column: Misgivings on fluoride in Wayland’s water

Source: Wicked Local Wayland | July 18th, 2013 | By Michael Bean, MD

I am writing this letter in response to your article “Public favors fluoride in water” (July 11).

The purpose of the hearing we held on July 8 was to solicit public comment regarding Wayland’s Community Water Fluoridation program. In no way did it represent a comprehensive poll of town opinion.

Only a handful of people came to the hearing. We received several more perspectives by email, many of which were opposed to fluoridation (the email tally was six residents in support, five residents against). Does either of these samplings represent the prevailing opinion in Wayland? Who knows? But your declarative title is misleading.

Personally, as a physician, I have several misgivings about our fluoridation program.

Wayland has been adding the drug fluoride to the municipal water since 2000. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers fluoride a drug, but does not regulate municipal water supplies – the Environmental Protection Agency does. As a drug, fluoride has well-documented systemic effects, and a relatively narrow margin of safety. And yet it is added to everyone’s tap water in a manner that can only control for concentration of fluoride delivered and not total dose ingested. As a drug delivery system, tap water is a very imprecise method.

The article states that “a spate of recent studies (has challenged) the beneficial effects of fluoride.” If you actually look at the articles the Board of Health cited, you would see we were more concerned with fluoride’s negative effects, not benefits. Some in the dental community, including the dentists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), assert that fluoride, at levels used in fluoridation, is safe. But when asked to produce randomized controlled trials demonstrating safety, they cannot. The studies just haven’t been done.

Fluoride is known to cause a condition called dental fluorosis. This can happen if children ingest too much before the age of 6, and it manifests as permanent white flecks and streaks on the teeth. Some of the dentists at the hearing asserted that fluorosis only happens when children swallow toothpaste. This concerns me because the scientific literature doesn’t support that position at all. The vast majority of fluoride ingested in the early years comes from municipal water supplies, not toothpaste. According to the CDC, 41 percent of American children aged 12 to 15 now suffer from some degree of dental fluorosis. Nearly half of all American children have been overexposed to fluoride before the age of 6.