Community water fluoridation is a topic that often creates passionate discussion, including two recent Calgary Herald opinion articles: “Council erred with elimination of fluoridation,” on Jan. 22, 2019, and Calgarians are better off without toxic fluoridation on Jan. 26, 2019.
We welcome the opportunity for conversations about improving the oral health of Calgarians and Albertans, and use this opportunity to confirm that Alberta Health Service’s position remains that community water fluoridation is safe and effective:
“Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services recognize that community water fluoridation effectively prevents tooth decay, especially among people who are most vulnerable. It offers significant benefit with very low risk and reaches all residents who are connected to a municipal water supply. Therefore, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services endorse community water fluoridation as a foundational public health measure to prevent dental disease and improve oral health.”
The consequences of poor oral health impact individuals’ well-being and quality of life. This can lead to pain, infection, impaired chewing ability, compromised appearance, tooth loss and absence from work or school.
Scientific research around the world continues to show that communities with fluoridated water observe 20 per cent to 40 per cent less tooth decay in comparison to non-fluoridated communities.
While some studies do claim that fluoride can have adverse health effects, these studies often have important limitations, such as assessing exposure to naturally occurring fluoride at concentrations higher than the levels regulated through community water fluoridation programs (which are the safe levels recommended for prevention of tooth decay).
Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization continue to monitor scientific evidence on this issue and continue to support fluoridation as a safe and effective way to prevent dental disease.
Across Canada, the decision of adjusting the concentration of fluoride in public water supplies is a municipal responsibility. Therefore, even though fluoridation has been proven to be a safe and effective practice, many Albertans do not have fluoridated water.
Municipal governments can be confident that the use of community water fluoridation at the recommended level does not pose a risk to public health, that it promotes the oral health of the population, and reduces inequities within communities.
The best available scientific evidence supports fluoridation as a safe and effective public health measure to improve oral health and reduce tooth decay. AHS values the oral health of Albertans and supports fluoridation as a public health approach to minimize dental disease and related complications.
Dr. Rafael Figueiredo is the provincial dental public health officer with AHS. Dr. David Strong is the provincial medical officer of health, communicable disease control, with AHS.
AHS medical officers of health are available to provide health information, respond to health inquiries and present medical and scientifically based facts on various health topics to communities, organizations and municipalities.
*Original article online at https://calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-alberta-confirms-fluoridation-is-safe-and-effective