Fluoride Action Network

Letter to Calgary Councillors: Evidence of the O’Brien Institute’s firmly entrenched, pro-fluoridation position.

Source: By Christine Massey, M.Sc., Fluoride Free Peel | June 25th, 2019
Location: Canada, Alberta

Dear Councillors,

Subject: evidence of the O’Brien Institute’s firmly entrenched, pro-fluoridation position.

Dr. Ghali of the O’Brien Institute insisted on Feb. 25th that the Institute will provide you an unbiased dossier on water fluoridation.

Yet the following examples from the Institute’s social media posts, newsletters and other documents clearly demonstrate a firmly entrenched, pro-fluoridation position.

Dozens of examples, along with screenshots, are compiled here.  Several screenshots are attached for you.

June 24, 2018, O’Brien Institute on Facebook. “Fluoride remains safe and effective. This is settled science… We are seeing the effects of Calgary’s decision to cease water fluoridation, and it isn’t pretty.”

July 12 2017: O’Brien Institute  claimed on Facebook that “Adding fluoride to tap water to prevent tooth decay is one of our greatest public health achievements…”

January 2 2018: O’Brien Institute tweeted a  biased and disrespectful news article from the National Post, wherein safe water advocates were framed as haters” and “combative naysayers”.  The O’Brien Institute repeated the “haters” term in several tweets.

June 27, 2018 tweet: is this what you would expect from a respectful, unbiased scientific organization?

February 2016, the O’Brien Institute condescendingly insinuated on Facebook that decisions not to fluoridate (made by most of the world) are based only on “ideology”.  Their featured Calgary Herald article begins: “Calgary’s medical health officer says council should reconsider its “fundamentally” ideological decision to remove fluoride…”

Fluoridation defending/promoting Juliet Guichon was an O’Brien Institute member until she resigned (apparently sometime since Jan. 22 2019), which enabled her to more aggressively promote fluoridation and attack the freedoms of safe drinking water advocates who disagree with her.  Guichon opposes freedom of speech for safe water advocates who disagree with her chosen fluoridation experts, and admits she is not qualified to discuss the science of water fluoridation.

Sept. 26, 2017: Guichon on Twitter while she was still a member of the O’Brien Institute.

June 23, 2018: O’Brien Institute and Guichon, working together to promote and defend water fluoridation while Guichon was still a member of the Institute.

June 2018 O’Brien Institute O’Bulletin: “The price Calgary kids arepaying for fluoride cessation

October 31 2018: O’Brien Institute shared on Facebook a pro-fluoridation post citing their member, Guichon.

January 22 2019: O’Brien Institute shared on Facebook their member Guichon’s pro-fluoridation Calgary Herald OpEd.

O’Brien Institute E-BULLETIN, February 26, 2016 Issue 88.  The Institute referred to safe water advocates as “chemophobes“, and frames McLaren’s weak study as hard evidence that the perfectly predictable has indeed come to pass”.

O’Brien Institute’s Research Impact Assessment May 2017 “Prepared for O’Brien Institute’s International Scientific Advisory Group”, on page 27 claims that McLaren’s study showed “for the first time the real-life ramifications of fluoride cessation”.

CBC, Feb 17, 2016:

“McLaren said the study is clear about the cause and effect at play.

“We designed the study so we could be as sure as possible that [the increased tooth decay] was due to [fluoride] cessation rather than due to other factors,” she told the CBC.

“We systematically considered a number of other factors … and in the end, everything pointed to fluoridation cessation being the most important factor.” 


The unfounded claims made by the O’Brien Institute (and member McLaren) that McLaren’s research has demonstrated a causal link between cessation of fluoridation and an increase in cavities were later denied by McLaren herself.

National Post, January 2, 2018:

“…much of the media coverage suggested McLaren had found slam-dunk proof, something she notes frankly could only come from a randomized clinical trial where scientists create a controlled experiment. Hers was an observational study, which can never demonstrate a causal link.”

McLaren, published in the Fall 2017 newsletter of Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry:

…… we concluded that findings observed are consistent with an adverse effect of fluoridation cessation for dental caries, but that additional monitoring would be needed to confirm the effects.

..Some of the [media] coverage was positive and accurate, but in other cases the study findings were mis-reported and the conclusions  overstated; for example, suggesting that ‘cavities spiked since fluoridation was stopped’. There was no spike but rather a gradual increase, and the trend observed was not since fluoridation was stopped, but rather over a time period during which cessation occurred

Is it any surprise that “media” overstated the strength of the study, when McLaren and the O’Brien Institute (which headed the study) had been doing that exact thing themselves?

O’Brien Institute E-BULLETIN, February 26, 2016 Issue 88.  Note the causal link implied in the title of the featured article, page 1.

O’Brien Institute E-BULLETIN, December 20, 2013 Issue 39.  McLaren’s study was already being framed as a likely source of evidence in favour of restarting water fluoridation.  Their featured news article included a video in which Dr. James Talbot, who was Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health at the time, described unfluoridated water as representing “a risk to people’s teeth”:

Yours for Safe Water,
Christine Massey, M.Sc.
Fluoride Free Peel