I became the dental expert for the city of Johnstown in 1989 after the local water authority unexpectedly voted to fluoridate without any research or public discussion.
Since authority members were appointed and not elected, there was little opponents could do. Seven years later, dentists began to talk openly about noticing dental fluorosis among children’s teeth.
As a licensed dentist for more than 30 years I believe in preventing dental disease. But putting fluoride into public water supplies on a whim is bad public policy.
Every year, state law mandates dental exams on all children in second and seventh grades. These exams are compiled into raw data that are kept in each school district. This data should be thoroughly reviewed before any action is taken.
No one disputes the fact that the direct application of fluoride on the surfaces of teeth will reduce cavities, but preventing cavities by fluoridating water is not as certain.
Results and side-effects are impossible to measure given the variables of individual water consumption. However, fluoridating public water exposes everyone while 99 percent of the chemical goes down the drain and into the environment.
Ever since fluoride was introduced into toothpaste in the 1950s, cavities have declined across the country. Regular tooth brushing is the most predictable method of reducing cavities and preventing gum disease.
Do we really need massive government intervention to make us feel good about our teeth?