The Vermont State Dental Society has begun its campaign effort in Rutland in anticipation of the March 1 advisory vote. Its glossy handout is titled “The REAL Facts About Fluoride.”
A few observations:
1. “REAL Facts” insinuates that opposition to fluoridation, which offers only ordinary “facts,” is quackery. This kind of put-down has been a standard tactic of the pro-fluoridation forces from the beginning. Yet, their own “facts” are demonstrably false or only partly true in many cases.
2. In its handout, the Dental Society uses the words “fluoride” and “fluoridation” interchangeably. This is a clever sleight-of-hand. “Fluoride” in toothpaste and other topical applications is much less controversial than “fluoridation” and generally accepted as effective in preventing tooth decay.
Very little toothpaste or fluoride rinse is swallowed when properly used. Also, one has a choice to use it or not. “Fluoridation” is much different. It’s effectiveness is doubtful. The dose one receives is uncontrolled. Fluoride is in the drinking water, and people lack a choice unless they buy bottled water. By using the two words interchangeably, the benefits of “fluoride” used topically are subtly linked to “fluoridation.” This is clever public relations but not honest communication.
3. “Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral and a proven strategy for improving a community’s oral and general health,” declares Dr. Grace Dickinson-Branon of St. Albans, president of the Dental Society. Well, at least she’s not calling it a “nutrient,” which the dentists often do. How is fluoride used in fluoridation a “mineral?” What Rutland adds to its water is fluorosilicic acid, a corrosive hazardous waste byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer business, and not “natural” at all.
4. “It is safe, proven and effective,” says Dr. Judith Fisch of Rutland, trustee of the American Dental Association, about fluoridation. As far as “real facts” go, the “safe” and “proven” are simply assertions, with much evidence suggesting neither is accurate. “Effective?” Marginally effective, or not at all effective, are closer to the truth.