The Ontario Dental Association is applauding a Health Canada-commissioned report recommending lower levels of fluoride in drinking water and encouraging low-fluoride toothpaste for children and low-fluoride formula products for infants.
“I’m delighted to see that the expert panel has again reinforced the safety and value of fluoride in our drinking water,” Dr. Larry Levin, association president, said Wednesday. “They are fine-tuning the amount of fluoride, saying that it can be decreased slightly and still have the wonderful effects that it does.”
The panel of six experts recommended reducing the maximum amount of the chemical in municipal drinking water from 0.8 parts per million to 0.7 ppm.
In Windsor, EnWin Utilities follows fluoridation guidelines set by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, said spokeswoman Sylvia de Vries. The maximum level is 8.5 ppm, but Enwin uses a level of 0.6 ppm, she said. “We are confident this is adequate fluoridation to maintain good dental care,” said de Vries.
In addition to supplying water to Windsor, the utility also supplies water to LaSalle and Tecumseh.
In Amherstburg, the Ontario Clean Water Agency is responsible for the town’s drinking water and also follows fluoridation guidelines set by the ministry, a spokesman at the water treatment plant said. The Union Water System, which is responsible for drinking water in Leamington, Kingsville, Essex and part of Lakeshore, does not use fluoride, a spokeswoman said.
Fluoride is such an effective cavity-fighter that it has been added to toothpaste and municipal water supplies for decades.
But safety concerns have been raised over alleged links to osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer in young boys, and fluorosis, the decay of children’s teeth.
The panel said the “weight of evidence” did not support a link between exposure to fluoride to an increased risk of cancer or fluorosis. But it expressed concerns that “the consumption of powdered infant formal reconstituted with fluoridated water could lead to excessive intake of fluoride in infants.”
It said “industry should be requested to continue to lower and standardize the fluoride concentration in infant formula.”
As well, measures should be taken “to promote and encourage the availability of lower concentration fluoride dentifrices for children, which are already available in other countries.”
Levin said levels in toothpaste should be monitored for children. “If children are putting too much on their toothbrush and are brushing and swallowing it, then their levels can be higher than is ideal, so the recommendation at the moment is to put a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush, monitor the child so they’re not swallowing it but brushing it and spitting it out.”