Fluoride Action Network

The fluoride debate: necessary good or outdated practice?

Source: The Melfort Journal | September 7th, 2004
Location: Canada, Saskatchewan

Melfort Journal — Fluoride. For over 40 years, the residents of Melfort have been receiving their daily dose of the element with every glass of water we drink and with every meal we prepare.

According to the city, it has been added in to the water somewhere around 1960 and before 1965, but nobody has any concrete answers.

The use of fluoride has been applauded for many years as the greatest single health prevention action in the 20th century. During the 1950’s and 60’s, the use and need of fluoride was hardly questioned and most communities, including Melfort, took what was deemed an appropriate action at the time.

As a matter of fact, the first time that council began speaking about adding fluoride to the water (1959), a man was sentenced to hang in the same week. Both seemed unquestionable at the time, but possibly outdated now?

Since the city sold the water treatment plant to Sask. Water, the city does not directly add the fluoride, but purchases the treated water from Sask. Water. That being said, the city can still dictate what kind of treatment they would like their water to have.

Since those days of yore (1960 and on), there has been no questions asked about the safety or need for the addition of the element in our water. However, other communities have raised the question since 1959.

As of March 2003, just fewer than 38 per cent of Saskatchewan’s population has also been receiving fluoride, while the other 62 per cent have not. Why are we in the minority?

One thing is for sure; we do not add the type of fluoride to the water that you might receive at the dentist. We get an industrial grade (as do most other fluoridated communities) that is inexpensive and readily available… but has not been tested thoroughly for human consumption. Dr. Harry Limeback, Head of Preventive Dentistry at the University of Toronto, seriously questions the safety of that industrial compound.

Even if we were using the higher grade of sodium fluoride, is there a need for it anymore?

We already get plenty of fluoride in our toothpaste, pop and processed foods, even if we don’t go to the dentist, so are we receiving an overload of fluoride?

If so, what are the consequences of that? Some have stated that over-dosing can cause brittle bones and dental fluorosis, and even more have stated that there is links to cancer and birth defects. We don’t know if that’s true or not, but it certainly raises an eyebrow or two.

But again, what about those in the area who are of a lower socio-economic status and do not brush their teeth as often as most might. Do we have a responsibility to make sure that their teeth do not decay?

Those who are against the use of fluoride in drinking water have conducted studies that show no difference in dental decay in communities that do not add fluoride, but yet, the WHO and Canadian Dental Association have approved of the practice, so nobody really agrees on the issue.

While this topic is extremely complicated and emotions are high on either end of the scale, the fact that there is plenty of fresh studies out there that denounce adding fluoride should be enough to make council at least investigate the use of the element.

After all, we’re talking mass medication here with experts on either side of the fence. Also, the fact that council has not looked at this issue since the early 1960’s is good enough reason to begin looking at it now.

After all, times change, scientific research has changed and attitudes certainly change in the span of 40 years.