Guest column: The Truth about Fluoridation; The Facts and the Science

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Guest commentary

Community water fluoridation (CWF) has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

But what is CWF and what does it mean?

CWF is the process of adjusting fluoride (already naturally present in the water) to a level of 0.7 parts per million (ppm), which has been shown to be an optimal level in the prevention of dental cavities. The ocean actually has a fluoride level of between 1.2 and 1.5 ppm.

But why did the CDC call this a great health achievement? This is where the science comes to the forefront. There have been thousands of articles in peer-reviewed journals and millions of dollars spent on research showing the clear benefits of fluoride in the prevention of tooth decay. A 2008 study in Nevada found that living in a community without fluoridated water was one of the top three factors associated with higher rates of decay and other dental problems among teens.

Research has also shown that the use of fluoride toothpaste is not enough to prevent tooth decay and that CWF is a critical component in the prevention of dental disease. In fact, a 1998 study of communities in Nebraska and Illinois found that even though nearly all of the children brushed regularly, those in the fluoridated towns had decay rates that were 45 percent lower than the other children. Another study, in 2010 in New York, found that Medicaid recipients in nonfluoridated communities required 33 percent more treatments for tooth decay than those in fluoridated counties. CWF provides another crucial layer of protection.

Fluoridation benefits extend to people of all ages, including adults, who may experience root exposure or dry mouth. In fact, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs has noted: “Because older Americans are now keeping their teeth longer, fluoride will continue to be even more important for preventing tooth decay in this age group.”

Opponents of fluoride ignore the impact of poor dental health as well as the clear benefits of prevention, but would rather circulate misinformation. For example, they point to studies from China, Mongolia and Iran as evidence that fluoride lowers IQ scores. But they fail to mention that many of the fluoride levels in these flawed studies were dramatically higher than the optimal level used in Naples. Water pollution is a huge problem in China and other contaminants could easily have contributed to these lower IQ scores.

Between the 1940s and 1990s, the average IQ scores of Americans improved 15 points even as fluoridation expanded to reach millions of additional people. If there were any truth to the claim that fluoride lowered IQ scores, the opposite would have happened.

You will also hear misinformation about various health problems fluoride can cause. More than a half-dozen expert panels have looked at the scientific evidence and concluded there is no credible evidence linking optimal levels of fluoridation to any negative health effects. Reviews have been conducted by the U.S. Institute of Medicine, the U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services, the U.S. Public Health Service, the National Academy of Sciences, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the World Health Organization and the National Health Service, United Kingdom, all showing the safety of optimally fluoridated water, even in infants and children.

Most important of all is the fact that those opposed to optimally fluoridated water do not have a single group like the WHO, CDC or American Medical Association which supports a single health claim they make.

On the other hand, the leading anti-fluoridation website posts research from the same man who co-wrote a book falsely claiming that the HIV virus does not cause AIDS. This research is also used by the anti-fluoride voices in Naples. Is this the kind of source we should trust?

What does this mean to our community? If optimal fluoridation of our water is discontinued, tooth decay will increase. One study in Wisconsin showed an increase in decay by 28 percent within three to five years after discontinuing CWF. Toothaches and other oral health problems can create hurdles for students trying to obtain a solid education. In 2012, a study found that teens with dental problems were four times more likely to have lower grade-point averages. The risk of increased pain and infections in our senior population can also be medically compromising.

The public health benefits of water fluoridation are recognized by more than 100 organizations including the WHO, AMA, American Dental Association, the Mayo Clinic and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Collier Dental Association urges our city and county officials to reject calls from anti-fluoride activists who want to discontinue this proven practice for protecting the oral health of children and adults in Collier County. Science and years of clinical experience have demonstrated both the clear benefits and the absence of any harmful effects to the health of those in CWF locales. With more than 205 million U.S. residents drinking optimally fluoridated water and 68 years of fluoridation in the U.S., the benefits of this program have stood the test of time.

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Comments » 1

nyscof writes:

Journal of the American Dental Association, Volume 116, April 1988, Page 493: “The current reported decline in (tooth decay) in the United States and other Western industrialized countries (98 percent of Western Europe and Japan is non-fluoridated) has been observed in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities, with percentage reductions in each community apparently about the same.”

Journal of Public Health Dentistry, 1991 Winter; 51(1), Page 43: “During the past 40 years dental caries has been declining in the U.S., as well as in most other developed nations of the world. ... The decline in dental caries has occurred both in fluoride and in fluoride-deficient communities, lending further credence to the notion that modes other than water fluoridation ... have made a major contribution.”

Most dentists are trained to use politics and not science to promote fluoridation, according to Armfield and Melbye in the Journal of the American Dental Association . The researchers write: "Studies of dentists' attitudes about water fluoridation suggest that a lack of knowledge and preparedness are barriers to discussing the topic ... more than one-half of the respondents believed they needed more information and training on the issue.

Armfield and Melbye postulate that: "Dentists' lack of self-efficacy with respect to critically evaluating scientific literature may help to explain their reluctance to promote water fluoridation in their clinical practices." Other studies how dentists don’t keep current on new fluoride science, e.g. this research by Yoder

Tooth decay crises are occurring in all fluoridated cities, states and countries http://www.FluorideNews.Blogspot because
80% of dentists refuse to treat Medicaid patients, 130 million Americans don't have dental insurance. Many of those with insurance can't afford dentistry's high out of pocket expenses. Despite 68 years of water fluoridation, 58 years of fluoridated toothpaste, a glut of fluoridated dental products, tooth decay is still a huge profitable business. Yet, our emergency rooms are flooded with people in dental agony because no dentists will treat them. Several children died from the consequences of untreated tooth decay because dentists refused to treat them.

Meanwhile, the real solution to this growing epidemic of untreated too decay and fluoride overdose of US children is to stop fluoridation and allow dental therapists to do the work that dentists refuse to do.

Dentists should be mandated to treat more low-income folks. But, in order to deflect attention to this inconvenient truth and because dentists hate mandates placed on their backs, they prefer to put fluoridation mandates upon our shoulders - even though the CDC reports that up to 60% of US adolescents are fluoride overdosed and afflicted with dental fluorosis - white spotted, yellow, brown and/or pitted teeth.

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