Northern Kentucky University sociology professor Joan Ferrante buys copies of the book “The Fluoride Deception” by Christopher Bryson and gives them to people she meets.

“I think it is the most well-researched book that I have ever come across in my career,” said Ferrante, who loves research and prefers it to two other main sources of knowledge – authorities and personal experience.

The book “The Fluoride Deception” cites research to argue that fluoride – best known for being put in public water systems to prevent cavities in teeth – is bad for people.

Ferrante says she once believed fluoride was good for you, but after reading the book, now believes fluoride is bad and shouldn’t be put in public water systems.

However, her credo is keep an open mind, so she’s open to research that will make her believe otherwise.

“I am looking for information that will change my mind about the conclusion I have drawn,” she said. “I try to live my life that way. I am always looking for ideas that might prove me wrong.”

Ferrante uses the topic of fluoride and “The Fluoride Deception” book in her social research methods class.

“It’s interesting how people react to ideas that challenge their beliefs,” she said. “Some people will shut down to such ideas without giving them the time of day. A closed mind is a very dangerous thing.

“I encourage my students to try to find credible information that will discount the findings in the book.”

Ferrante has her students look at a tube of toothpaste at home.

She says any brand with fluoride in it will carry a warning something like: “Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, get medical help or contact a poison control center immediately.”

Ferrante’s students explore why there’s so much variation among states when it comes to fluoridated water.

Kentucky is the national leader in percentage of population with fluoridated public water systems – 96.8 percent. Utah is the lowest at 2 percent.

“Kentucky has a lot of poverty and fluoride was originally put in water to address cavities among the poor,” noted Ferrante, who said she’s been told by people in Utah that people there don’t like government intervention in natural things like water.

Using state statistics, students in Ferrante’s class correlate health problems in areas with and without fluoridated water.

“There are very high correlations between fluoridated water and children with attention deficit disorder, adults with arthritis and bone cancer deaths,” said Ferrante. “Surprisingly, there is more tooth loss in areas with fluoridated water.”

There are some correlations between fluoridated water and fewer cavities.

“I acknowledge fluoride probably does reduce cavities to some extent,” said Ferrante. “The question is, is it worth the other effects?

“Another question is, how do you control the amount of fluoride you get? What if you drink eight glasses of water a day? What if you swim a lot, how much fluoride is absorbed in the skin? What about crops produced with fluoridated water? It’s amazing where water goes.”

Ferrante said that while she keeps an open mind, the research conducted by her students leads her to believe that there’s more harm than good in fluoride. Unless a future class comes up with something different, she says she’s not drinking tap water.