PHOENIX – Each Sunday, ABC15.com debuts an Arizona issue – along with two opposing sides on the topic.
Don’t worry, you always have the opportunity to make comments at the bottom of the page. Yeah, your opinion matters, too.
This weekend, we’re taking a look at the debate over fluoridation in our water supply.
Carol S. Kopf, Media Director of Fluoride Action Network, says fluoridation is an outdated, ill-conceived public health blunder that needs to be abandoned world-wide.
Howard Farran, DDS, of Today’s Dental in Ahwatukee says it is equally important that we ingest fluoride to get it into our blood supply and help build teeth and strong bones in addition to brushing our teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
What do you think?
The first of two positions:
Fluoridation is Outdated and Harmful: By Carol S. Kopf, Media Director, Fluoride Action Network
Fluoridation is a 1940’s concept begun with the mistaken belief that one milligram fluoride ingested daily from one liter of water reduced children’s tooth decay while teeth formed. Now children consume up to six times that amount of fluoride from water, food, beverages, and dental products negating the need for water fluoridation and putting Americans at unnecessary risk of fluoride’s adverse effects and overdoses.
Further, swallowing fluoride doesn’t stop cavities. Fluoride hardens outer tooth enamel topically, not systemically, according to the CDC.
Fluoridation opponents and proponents agree that too much fluoride is a bad thing with dental fluorosis (discolored teeth) and skeletal fluorosis (bone and joint damage) the consequence. EPA sets safe water fluoride contaminant levels at 2 mg/l and 4mg/L to prevent dental and skeletal fluorosis, respectively.
Early fluoridationists promised only 10% would develop mild dental fluorosis (white spots). But today 41% of 12-15 year-olds have dental fluorosis – 3% moderate/severe (yellow, brown and/or pitted teeth). Government’s failure to examine these children for skeletal fluorosis nullifies any safety claims.
CDC’s Oral Health Division, comprised mostly of dentists, pronounced fluoridation a great achievement, but didn’t conduct any original safety research and admits early fluoridationists wrongly assumed that fluoride ingestion prevented cavities.
Legislators, organizations, foundations and associations that endorse fluoridation were and are lobbied with incomplete and incorrect knowledge; few if any do original research or poll its membership.
Most literature reviews actually point out huge gaps in fluoride safety knowledge. For example, UKresearchers reported in 2003 “We were unable to discover any reliable good-quality evidence in the fluoridation literature world-wide.” In 2006, the Chairman of the National Research Council (NRC) panel on fluoride toxicology, John Doull PhD, said many safety questions are still unsettled.
NRC also revealed that fluoride, even at low doses added to water supplies, can damage the thyroid, kidney patients, babies and heavy water drinkers. Consequently, many dental, health and government agencies now advise that infant formula should not be mixed with fluoridated water. Also, the National Kidney Foundation withdrew its fluoridation endorsement. Even the American Dental Association admits fluoride can harm kidney patients.
Fluoridationists dismiss non-US studies. Harvard researchers reviewed 27 foreign studies and concluded that they reliably indicate that water fluoride levels are linked to lower IQ – including studies of communities with water fluoride levels lower than US EPA safe levels. Where are the USstudies to confirm or deny this?
Calcium fluoride found in nature is much less toxic than hydrofluosilicic acid, the tainted byproduct of phosphate fertilizer manufacturing, added to US fluoridating communities’ water. In fact, calcium is the antidote for fluoride. There is no dispute that fluoride can be toxic.
Fluoride is neither a nutrient, nor essential for good oral health. Fluoridation is an out-dated, ill-conceived public health blunder that needs to be abandoned world-wide. We should educate, not medicate. We cannot continue to allow our children to be unpaid guinea pigs, and without parental informed consent, and partake in this ongoing fluoridation experiment for the political viability of organized dentistry.
Do you agree with this opinion? Add a comment below to sound off.
The second position:
Phoenix Needs Fluoride: By Howard Farran, DDS
When I opened up my dental practice – Today’s Dental in Ahwatukee – in 1987, tooth decay was rampant. I couldn’t understand why all of my patients were presenting with such horrible oral health issues. I went to dental school in Kansas City and I didn’t see even a tenth of the amount of decay in the patients I worked on there. I looked into it and found out the difference in the areas were that the water of Kansas City was fluoridated and the water of Phoenix was not.
Once the city of Phoenix fluoridated the water supply in 1989, I witnessed a noticeable drop in cavities in all of my patients. Economists have crunched the numbers and found that for every 40 cents spent on fluoridating a community’s water supply, it saves each patient nearly $40 in dental care. That’s why, in America, fluoridating the water has been classified as one of the top 10 greatest public health measures in the last 100 years.
The evidence against regulating optimal fluoride levels in the water doesn’t add up. All legitimate studies on water fluoridation find that it does not cause any adverse health affects at the levels U.S. citizens are exposed to, but what ALL of the studies find is that it significantly decreases tooth decay when compared to people who drink water containing no fluoride in it. The fringe studies that anti-fluoridationists often locate to bolster their arguments tend to be based in foreign countries with water supplies that have fluoride levels of up to 11 parts per million (acceptable levels of fluoride in the United States are .7ppm (parts per million).
Anti-fluoridationists also like to point out that European countries don’t fluoridate their water supplies. The infrastructure of European countries is quite a bit older than that of the United States – by several hundred years, in fact. In the States, it’s easy and cost effective to set-up a single fluoride installation facility to treat all of the city’s water, whereas in Europe, you might have to set up 25 or 30 of them. Not very cost effective. Europeans do get fluoride, however, because they fluoridate their salt!
The big flap anti-fluoridationists have is about the city adding fluoride to the water supply, but what they tend to leave out is fluoride actually appears naturally in water. The ocean, for example, contains fluoride! In fact it contains an even higher level of fluoride than the water we drink at 1.5 ppm. While some cities have to add fluoride to the water supply to get it up to an optimal level of 0.7ppm to 1.2ppm, there are some communities that actually have to filter the fluoride out of their water because it naturally shows up in their supply at higher levels than the acceptable amount of .7 parts per million.
Another argument I hear is that there’s already quite a bit of fluoride in toothpaste. That’s true. And that does help fight tooth decay. But what we also need to understand is that poor children may not have access to toothpaste. Given a choice between spending what little money a family might have on food, or toothpaste and a toothbrush, a family in dire straits will choose food all day long. Fluoride in the water helps build stronger teeth so these families can actually eat their food. We also need to understand that, while it is important to brush our teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride, it is equally important that we ingest fluoride to get it into our blood supply and help build teeth and strong bones.
Do you agree with this opinion? Add a comment below to sound off.