Fluoride Action Network

Should West Island continue fluoridation?

Source: The West Island Chronicle | September 25th, 2002 | by Scott Taylor
Location: Canada, Quebec

Saying fluoride is available in so many ways today, Dorval borough chairman Peter Yeomans would like a study to see if it should be taken out of the West Island’s drinking water supply.

“I’m not saying that it should be taken out,” Yeomans said, “but fluoride is so readily available these days that it seems unnecessary for it to be in the water.”

Yeomans, who is also a member of the executive committee in charge of public security, said the issue should be addressed. “I think questions have to be asked that dosages, however small they are, must be significant when you think of the number of litres we use.

“We consume so little of the water we use, but the fluoride is always there. When you shower or water your lawn or wash your car, the fluoride is still in the water. I’m just saying that an awful lot of it goes into the soil and fluoride contains aluminum.”

Fluoride became mainstream in the water system in Quebec in the early 1960s. The improvement in dental health was immediate, but with fluoride now in most brands of toothpaste there may not be a need for it in water.

Yeomans said both Dorval and Pointe Claire fluoridate their water. “The Quebec government subsidizes this and they encourage it.”

Dr. Norman Miller of McGill University’s faculty of dentistry has a much different opinion. “I would be very suspicious of anyone who wants to take fluoride out,” he said. “There’s a tremendous health benefit. In U.S. cities where they’ve had fluoride for almost 70 years, cavities are a thing of the past. In contrast, (downtown) Montreal does not put fluoride into the water and we see dental problems you don’t see anywhere else. It’s like Montreal is the Third World or something.”

Miller added that the ratio of one part per million was infinitesimal. “There’s a thousand times more chlorine in every system. I’d be much more worried about that.”

Dr. Anthony Vassiliadis of the Kirkland Dental Centre said there was much debate on the subject with both pro and con sides weighing in with opinions.

“There’s a whole argument out there that good dental hygiene and the knowledge that we have to brush our teeth three times a day is the reason teeth are in such better shape these days. There are groups that say fluoride doesn’t do anything,” he said.

While Vassiliadis said he uses fluoride to help keep his patients’ teeth healthy, it is true that too much of a good thing can be harmful. “Too much fluoride can lead to fluorisis which makes bones brittle and can calcify teeth. We see many teens with white spots on their teeth and that’s because they had too much fluoride when they were younger.”

He said you can find a study to back up your position regardless of what side you are on. “There are a lot of positives and negatives out there.”

On the Web site www.nofluoride.com, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Arvid Carlsson of Sweden warns against fluoride. “I would advise against fluoridation.”

He said fluoridation harms some people and is not considered proper health care in his country. “In Sweden, to my knowledge, fluoridation is no longer advocated by anybody.”

Some fluoride facts

What exactly is fluoride? It’s something we consume every day, but do we really know what it is? The following is a basic guideline to fluoride.

Fluoride is the 13th-most-abundant element in the Earth’s crust – and it is also found in the human body. It is present in small and varying amounts in all soils, plants, animals, air and water supplies.

Fluoride occurs naturally in varying amounts in surface water (oceans and lakes) and in groundwater. This occurs by water passing over rock formations containing fluoride and dissolving the compounds from it. Because of this, our diet contains fluoride and it is then deposited in our teeth and bones. Fluoride is considered by many a beneficial nutrient based on its effects on dental health. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel making the teeth more resistant to decay.

Most Canadians are exposed to fluorides on a daily basis, both through the trace amounts found in almost all foods and those that are added to some drinking water supplies to prevent tooth decay.

Many governments and health organizations, including Health Canada, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Dental Association, the Canadian Medical Association and the World Health Organization endorse the fluoridation of drinking water to prevent tooth decay.

It is believed fluoride protects tooth enamel against the acids that cause tooth decay. Many studies have shown that fluoridated drinking water greatly reduces the number of cavities in children’s teeth. About 40 per cent of Canadians receive fluoridated tap water.