I am a member of the Pierce County Dental Society, the Washington State Dental Society ( WSDA ) and the American Dental Association ( ADA ). I am also a member of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology.

As a dentist who works in Pierce County, Washington, I must take exception to the view of organized dentistry that water fluoridation is good for all and without controversy. I oppose water fluoridation. I know many dentists and physicians who agree with me, but they fear a backlash from their colleagues if they speak out. I am very concerned about the welfare and the health of my patients. I care very deeply about the children and the elderly in my community. I should. My own family makes up part of that community.

Proponents of fluoridation and those who oppose it agree that there is a tooth decay crisis among poor children. We agree that there is a link between oral disease and the health of the body as a whole. Our differences lie in the solution to dental decay and the devastating effects it can have on our health.

The ADA and WSDA support fluoridation as the solution. They are currently leading and financing a campaign, beginning in Bellingham, to fluoridate the water of every citizen in Washington. The majority of dentists seem to buy into this position without ever questioning the scientific validity of that position. Studies linking water fluoridation to increased hip fracture in the elderly, bone cancer in young males, increased lead uptake in children, thyroid disease, hormonal disturbances, arthritis and harm to our environment are ignored.

Recent studies showing no difference in decay rates between fluoridated and un-fluoridated cities are swept aside as they push forward with a relentless fervor that is more akin to religious dogma than a scientific viewpoint.

Pierce County recently was an excellent case to this point. According to data collected by the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, Tacoma’s school children have significantly higher decay rates than children in un-fluoridated areas of Pierce County. Tacoma has been fluoridated for over 10 years. The health department continued to try to push for mandatory fluoridation even though no benefit was seen for the teeth of Tacoma’s children. Their attempt failed at the Supreme Court level.

An article in the July 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association showed that fluoride’s benefit comes from direct topical action on the teeth, not from ingesting or swallowing it.

Another article, in the March 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, documents a significant decrease in tooth decay among children who eat breakfast, and eat several helpings of fruits and vegetables daily. Tooth decay is a disease of nutritional deficiency. It is not a disease of fluoride deficiency. What we need to do is rethink our fast food, “better living through chemistry” philosophies and eat right, not try for a quick fix with another medication that will poison us all in the long run.

Dental Fluorosis Is First Sign of Poisoning

Even the organizations that promote water fluoridation don’t argue that dental fluorosis, the first sign of fluoride poisoning in the body, will increase. Fluorosis is a condition where the enamel of the forming tooth is damaged by too much fluoride. Because fluoride is now so prevalent in other sources besides water, fluorosis is increasing in the United States, even in areas that are not fluoridated.

The condition can be disfiguring and require costly cosmetic dentistry to correct, which is not offered to the poor on state assistance. Children with protein and calcium deficient diets are most vulnerable to dental fluorosis. Water fluoridation will adversely affect the poor children that the proponents claim it will help.

Citizens need to be aware that the ADA and the WSDA conduct no research of their own. Dental trade organizations are neither responsible for, nor qualified to study the adverse health effects of water fluoridation. These studies need to be done and reviewed by medical researchers, epidemiologists and toxicologists.

Fluoride for ingestion is a prescription medication. The FDA has never approved as safe or effective any fluoride designed for ingestion. The fluoride used in 90 percent of the fluoridated cities has never been tested on humans. The only FDA approved fluoride is for topical application, such as toothpaste. There is a slim margin of safety with fluoride. People have died in Maryland and Alaska when equipment malfunctions allowed an overdose of fluoride to enter the public water supply. There is a “Warning” on your tube of toothpaste that states: “Keep out of reach of children under six years of age. In case of accidental ingestion, seek professional assistance or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.”

Fluoride is a prescription medication that should be dispensed by licensed medical/dental professionals, not dumped into our water supply by a city worker in a white protective suit. The ADA Web site states that infants should not receive any fluoride. Who is going to be in charge and make sure that parents are not making baby formula with fluoridated tap water? Who will provide poor families with bottled water for this purpose? Increasing the fluoride intake of the population without regard to established risk factors such as age, weight, kidney function, total water consumption and fluoride intake from other sources is hardly a health benefit. It is medical negligence.

There are also environmental concerns about fluoride. People consume only 1 percent of the fluoridated water. Only half of that, or 0.5 percent of fluoridated water, is retained in the body. The rest goes down the toilet, waters our lawns, washes our cars and ends up in our environment. This is why a group of prominent EPA scientists has spoken out against this uncontrolled dumping of fluoride into our environment.

Mass Medication of Citizens

With a little research, it is easy to see that fluoride is not really as safe and cost effective as we are being led to believe. But beyond this is another aspect of the issue that deserves the attention of every citizen. Local governments, encouraged by organized dentistry, are attempting to mandate mass medication of citizens against their will. Such an attempt failed in Pierce County. The issue has been “softened” for the residents of Bellingham with a ballot initiative allowing a majority vote for or against fluoridating your water supply. This is not an election for a government official or an initiative to decide how your tax dollars are spent. This is an initiative that could force you to swallow a medication via your water supply whether you want to or not.

The big question here is whether citizens willing to partake of this mass medication have the right to force other citizens to do the same, even if it is by a majority vote. Whether it is tyranny by the masses, as in a majority vote, or tyranny by a few, as with the mandate in Pierce County, it is still tyranny. Do not we as citizens have a right to determine what medications we and our children will take? Is it not reasonable for citizens to expect that their governments will protect them, and not subject them to untested medications that have questionable benefit?

There are those in the dental profession who have made a career out of promoting fluoridation and they aren’t about to change the status quo. There is the industrial element that reaps huge profits by selling cities fluoride products to put in their water. To them human life is cheap if it improves their bottom line.

We must remain vigilant of our rights as citizens. We must inform our government officials of the valid scientific studies that exist that should be raising red flags concerning the possible health risks of water fluoridation. We must explore other methods to help reduce tooth decay, especially in poor children. Decay is still a problem in cities that have been fluoridated for decades. We can no longer proceed solely on the basis that this has been a “medical tradition” for the last 50 years. Medical traditions have been proved wrong in the past. This surely will be the case for water fluoridation.