House Bill 3099 would force major Oregon cities to add silicofluorides to their drinking water even though several cities have specifically voted against fluoridation. Failing to convince most Oregon voters, promoters of fluoridation are pushing the Legislature to remove local control.
As a dentist with a masters degree in public health for over 25 years, I promoted water fluoridation and fluoride supplements. Current research has shifted, finding fluoridation in developed communities unnecessary. While the lack of fluoridation’s benefit is not the prevailing view among U.S. dentists, most European dental associations, the Nobel Medical Institute and the Pasteur Institute along with 97 percent of Western Europe, and a growing number of U.S. scientists no longer recommend fluoridation or fluoride supplements.
Dentists are puzzled and can’t explain why fluoridation no longer appears to reduce dental decay. One theory is the total fluoride intake from all sources, such as pesticides, dental and medical products and post-harvest fumigants has reached high enough levels even without the addition of fluoride in water to provide the so-called “optimal” dose of fluoride. The significant increase in dental fluorosis in children from 22 percent to 32 percent supports this theory.
Another theory is fluoridation never did reduce tooth decay and flawed historical studies failing to control for confounding factors are at fault.
With limited or no benefit, the risks of fluoridation suddenly loom ominous. In 2006, data from a major NIH-funded Harvard study confirmed other studies and found a 500 percent increased risk of a bone cancer in boys drinking fluoridated water.
In 2006, the National Academy of Science found current EPA contaminant levels for fluoride were not protective, especially for infants, seniors and certain subpopulations drinking more water. The minimal margin of safety has disappeared.
In the wake of the 2006 NAS report, the Center for Disease Control, American Dental Association, several state departments of health (including ODHS) have quietly issued warnings against the use of fluoridated water to mix infant formula. Formula made with fluoridated water contains 250 times more fluoride than mother’s milk. To avoid excessive fluoride exposure, an ADA representative recently testified to the Oregon legislators that mothers should use bottled water to mix infant formula. Boiling water and simple home filters do not remove fluoride.
Bottled water is impractical for many low-income families, especially those on public transportation. If the Legislature decides to force fluoridation on Oregon communities, it will knowingly be giving low-income children what even the promoters of this bill admit is an excessive dose of fluoride. Furthermore, the idea that the Legislature would make Oregon’s drinking water unusable for Oregon’s youngest residents is inconsistent with the principle that drinking water should be safe for everyone.
The right of local communities to decide whether fluoridation makes sense has never been more important. If Oregonians want to retain local control, it is definitely time to let your state representatives and senators know.
Bill Osmunson DDS, MPH of Lake Oswego is a dentist with Aesthetic Dentistry of Lake Oswego. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.