Fluoride does not alter the taste, smell or appearance of water, but it does help protect teeth from cavities. (Photo: US Center for Disease Control)
A long list of government organizations in the western world as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) endorse water fluoridation as a means of preventing tooth decay. Despite widespread consensus that this is true, many individuals and less influential groups argue against this practice.
The controversy, which has even earned its own Wikipedia page, has recently received some more attention when opponents convinced Pinellas County commissioners in Florida to stop adding fluoride to their water supply.
The fight against fluoridation, does not seem to be based on cost; rather, groups against fluoridation such as the Fluoride Action Network, are citing health concerns and the “forced” consumption of fluoride as their main arguments. While they list a number of potential health risks, most have not been widely recognized; albeit, there is one notable exception — a condition called fluorosis. Fluorosis occurs in those who consume too much fluoride and can drastically weaken teeth and bones. However, organizations that recommend water fluoridation such as the WHO clearly state that levels should not exceed a particular threshold and that when they do (which they do in some natural environment) fluoride should actually be removed from the water. Moreover, such organizations also state that studies have not shown any adverse health effects from water fluoridation when water levels are kept below this threshold.
Nevertheless fluoride is being added to a larger number of oral hygiene products (if not already present) and it may be worth to consider asking for a compromise rather than asking counties to simply stop water fluoridation. Why not simply ask for more stringent thresholds to be implemented rather than stopping fluoridation altogether?
- Fluoride In Drinking Water? No Thanks, Says Florida County (NPR November, 2011)
- Fluoride Action Network
- World Health Organization’s site about inadequate or excess fluoride