Fluoride Action Network

Rethinking Water Fluoridation for the Economically Disadvantaged

Source: The Sonoma County Gazette | January 1st, 2015 | By Marlene Lily

Our public health officials claim water fluoridation is an effective way to prevent the high rates of tooth decay now found in low-income children. Here are four problems with this idea:

1) There are oral health crises in low-income areas that have been fluoridated for decades. Fluoridation has not prevented low-income neighborhoods from suffering what numerous state and local health officials describe as a crisis. It is unclear, therefore, how fluoridation can be expected to alleviate the alleged oral health crisis in Sonoma County when it has failed to prevent such crises in areas that have been fluoridated for 30 to 60 years.

2) Published studies have repeatedly found that fluoridation does not prevent the type of tooth decay – baby bottle tooth decay (BBTD) – that is one hallmark of the current local oral health crisis. Photos used (deceptively) by County Health Department employees to emphasize the urgent need for fluoridation are almost always photos of BBTD.  Only education can prevent BBTD.  Fluoridation will have no effect.

3) The Centers for Disease Control say that fluoride works topically – so there is no reason for ingesting it.

4) Evidence of disproportionate harm to communities of color turns on its head the notion that fluoridation is a benefit to the economically disadvantaged.  In fact, it is the poor who are most harmed by fluoride, suffering higher rates of dental fluorosis, as well as the other health effects of fluoride, especially diabetes and asthma. Poor diet results in more tooth decay and more harm from fluoride.

Fluoridation Is Not Dental Care

The addition of cheap industrial hazardous waste to the water supply has never been, and will never be, a substitute for dental care. If we really care about the oral health of our children we should put our money into dental care, hygiene, and nutrition education, free toothbrush/toothpaste programs, fluoride varnishes for those who need them most, and reduced sugar intake.

Among the groups often listed as supporting fluoridation is the World Health Organization (WHO).  WHO does favor fluoridation. But what is often ignored by proponents is the WHO’s precautionary caveat that water fluoridation programs should not be started unless the municipality/water authority has conducted prior tests on residents to establish their total daily fluoride intake from all sources of food and beverage and environmental exposures.

The Board of Supervisors and the Department of Health services has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on an Engineering Report and water fluoridation promotion without allocating a single dime to determine whether the children of Sonoma County may already be ingesting an “optimal” or greater-than-optimal amount of fluoride.

More than 40 years ago, before southern Marin County was fluoridated, John Lee, M.D., did a study of children’s diets to determine fluoride intake.  Simultaneously, another group studied the fluoride in the urine of Marin teenagers.

Both studies revealed that Marin county children were ingesting more than enough fluoride without water fluoridation. Lee reported his findings in the Journal of Western Medicine: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1129768/

Some 22,000 tons of fluoride-containing pesticides and fungicides are sprayed on Sonoma County crops each year, and some of that is absorbed from the air by local residents.  In addition, the fluoride content of foods and beverages has markedly increased since the 1970s.  And each brushing with fluoride toothpaste results in the absorption of about 1 mg. of fluoride.  So it would only make sense for the Sonoma County Department of Health Services to test local children before recommending water fluoridation.  Why has no one in the DHS thought of this?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 41 per cent of American children now suffer from dental fluorosis, the visible sign of systemic fluoride poisoning incurred before the age of eight.  The rate is much higher for African Americans and Latinos.

When fluoridation began in the 1940s, its advocates stated that a maximum rate of 10 per cent of children getting “mild” dental fluorosis would be an “acceptable” trade-off for decay reduction.  Now, in some areas, 17 per cent of African-American teens have “severe” dental fluorosis—where the teeth show dark stains and pitting and decay is difficult to repair.  A new study has linked dental fluorosis to reduced IQs, and a Harvard scientist is asking whether “prevention of chemical brain drain should be considered at least as important as protection against caries.”  braindrain.dk/2014/12/mottled-fluoride-debate/

It has never been established that fluoride is a neccesary nutrient.  There are no bodily processes that require fluoride, and many people living in areas with no fluoride in their water or diets have excellent teeth.  Oral health depends on a nutritious diet, adequate dietary minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, Vitamin D, and a lack of sugar.

Before adding a toxin to our water to reduce tooth decay in poor children, shouldn’t we find out if those children may already be getting enough or too much fluoride from their diets and environment?