Facts Matter In The Debate Over Water Fluoridation

It’s known as one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century : a “classic example of clinical observation leading to epidemiological investigation and community-based public health intervention,” remaining “the most equitable and cost-effective method of delivering [health benefits] to all members of most communities, regardless of age, educational attainment, or income level.”

It’s a service that has benefitted Calgarians for two decades, backed by peer reviewed research and conclusive scientific data demonstrating the undeniable role it plays in the field of preventive medicine.

Raise a glass to Community Water Fluoridation (CWF), that is, while you still can. Because Monday, City Council will vote on Ald. Druh Farrell’s regressive motion to scrap Calgary’s water fluoridation program.

Armed with unsubstantiated claims and assertions gleaned from sources such as the discredited Fluoride Action Network, (or perhaps from the uninformed and poorly researched editorial in the Calgary Herald), Farrell and other luddites on city council are on the verge of rescinding an effective program based entirely on conspiracy theories and misinformation.

Claim: It’s not cost effective / other sources of fluoride do a better job at protecting teeth.

Fact: Despite the increase exposure to other sources of fluoride, “particularly from fluoride-containing dentifrices,” water fluoridation “continues to be the most far-reaching preventive [dental health] measure, [offering] an unmatched return on investment – saving $38 in dental treatment costs for every dollar spent.”

The U.S. Surgeon general reports that savings provided by CWF are “a rare characteristic for community-based disease prevention strategies. The mean annual per capita cost of fluoridation systems serving populations greater than 50,000 is [a mere]$0.68.”

Claim: The overall downward trend in cavity rates is due factors such as better oral hygiene, not water fluoridation / It doesn’t benefit adults.

Fact: Children living in communities with water fluoridation experience an 18% cavity reduction compared to those in communities without access to fluoridated water. Adolescents and adults in communities with fluoridated water experience an average of 25.6% and 20-40% respectively, than their counterparts living in communities without access to fluoridated water.

The U.S. Surgeon General reports “other evidence of the benefits of fluoridation comes from studies of populations where fluoridation has ceased … In Wick, Scotland, which began water fluoridation in 1969 but stopped it in 1979, the [cavity] prevalence in 5- to 6-year-olds … increased by 27 percent between 1979 and 1984. This was despite a national decline in [cavities] and increased availability of fluoride-containing [dental products].”

Claim: Studies show the risks of fluoridation outweigh the benefits / there is growing credible research demonstrating the dangers of ingesting fluoride.

Fact: Research into the effects of fluoridated drinking water “predates the first community field trials. Since 1950, opponents of water fluoridation have claimed it increased the risk for cancer, Down syndrome, heart disease, osteoporosis and bone fracture, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, low intelligence, Alzheimer disease, allergic reactions, and other health conditions. The safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation [is regularly] re-evaluated, and no credible evidence supports an association between fluoridation and any of these conditions.”

Specifically, from a study done by Dr. David Locker, Community Dental Health Services Research Unit – Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto:

Regarding acute toxicity: “Fluoride is a poison in large doses but toxic levels cannot be achieved by drinking fluoridated water.”

Regarding bone health (osteoporosis; weak, brittle bones): “…the studies conducted to date do not provide systemic and compelling evidence of an adverse effect on bone.”

Regarding cancer: “… there is no reason to believe that exposure to fluoridated water increases rates of cancer either of bone or other body tissues.”

Regarding immune function: “…a review paper examined studies of fluoride and immune response … and found no support for the suggestion that fluoride affects immunity.”

Regarding mental development: “Recent studies emanating from China have claimed that children exposed to high levels of fluoride have lower IQ’s than children exposed to low levels. The two studies claiming such an effect are deeply flawed and provide no credible evidence that fluoride obtained from water or industrial pollution affects the intellectual development of children.”

The merits of water fluoridation are unmatched and undeniable. Endorsed by Medical and Dental Associations worldwide, CWF is considered an investment in the future health and overall wellbeing of a given population.

Perhaps the most important, and overlooked, aspect of CWF is the extent to which it benefits the underprivileged members of society. As outlined in a 2009 report from the European Archives of Pediatric Dentistry, “water fluoridation is unmatched in its ability to reach all sectors of society, including those who are least likely to avail of other sources of fluoride or to access regular dental care … water fluoridation seems to reduce inequalities in children’s dental health across social classes in 5 and 12 year olds. Further research in this area has shown that water fluoridation benefits all social strata, and supports the finding that it may reduce inequalities in oral health, which is seen as one of fluoridation’s greatest strengths.”

This counteracts recent claims from Tea Party/Libertarians that CWF somehow deprives them of their choice to consume un-fluoridated water; that it violates their ‘personal freedoms‘.

Unlike the disadvantaged who have neither the money for, nor the access to, expensive dental procedures, those demanding ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’ are the very ones who have the opportunity to exercise it.

If Calgarians are unsatisfied by the water provided by the city, they can opt to invest in a water filtration system, or chose to consume bottled water. It really is that simple.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, a fellow fan of scientific research and hard evidence, has expressed his desire for input from the scientific community, medical experts, and the general public, regarding the future of Calgary’s water fluoridation program.

It’s my hope that the medical, dental, and scientific communities heed the Mayor’s call for expert, informed opinion. Whether City Council votes to end Calgary’s fluoridation program or not, it’s important that votes are based on accurate information and conclusive evidence.

Three months ago, Calgarians opted for progress and advancement when they elected Nenshi as mayor. Let’s hope the 14 Aldermen chosen to represent the will of the people will continue to do just that, and keep the much beneficial water fluoridation program.

37 responses

  1. I think city hall has finally come to their senses and decided to debate the fluoride situation again. I want the fluoride out of my drinking water and the sooner the better.

    There is such a thing as getting too much fluoride. If people want fluoride they can get it in many forms considerable cheaper then putting it in our drinking water where approximately 1/2 the population don’t want it.

    If you think you need more fluoride, brush your teeth more with a fluoride toothpaste, use a mouthwash containing fluoride, take a fluoride pill and a have fluoride treatment when you have your dental cleaning or take a fluoride pill.

    My dentist told me that fluoride is not good for porcelain caps, it makes them crack after a while. Since my husband and I have a mouth full of porcelain I am having to pay over $450 a year to take the fluoride out of our drinking water.

    Finally City Hall is coming to their senses.

  2. Isn’t it strange, doctors cannot force one person to take a drug, yet the government wants to force everyone to be drugged with fluoride, a prescription drug, against their will and with no medical supervision, no control over how much you consume and no treatment for side effects.
    Fluoridation not only causes cancer, brittle bones, etc., (see http://www.fluoridealert.org) but is an absolute waste of tax money. People only drink 1/2% of the water they use.
    For example, for every $1000 of fluoride chemical added to water, $995 would be directly wasted down the drain in toilets, showers, dishwashers, etc., $5 would be consumed in water by the people, and less than $0.50 would be consumed by children. Can you think of a more wasteful government program?
    Would anyone purchase a bottle of 100 EXPENSIVE ‘medicant’ pills, take just one and throw the rest away into our habitats only to pollute our environments? Of course NOT!

  3. If you want fluoride in your water, put it in your own glass of water, leave the rest of us out of it.
    If fluoride were “proven,” there should be evidence of its glory in the U.S. state, Kentucky, which has been 100% fluoridated for over 40 years. Kentucky, however, leads the nation in the number of dental cavities in children, and in the number of completely toothless adults, according to government records. The same ineffectiveness is evident in many states and cities.

    Most of Europe (16 countries) has rejected fluoridation and is 98% fluoride free. and the WHO reports that they have a better tooth decay rate than any fluoridated country.
    There are many large scientific studies to show that that drinking fluoridated water has no effect on cavity reduction and to show that it causes cancer and other health problems. The best source for scientific information on fluoridation can be found here: (www.fluoridealert.org).

  4. Thank you Laurel for your input. However, every claim you make has been thoroughly disproven by scientific study. I have hyperlinks in my piece for a reason — the actual raw data and reports are there for you to read.

    Also jwillie6, it’s best not to cite claims from, or link to, the very discredited conspiracy theorist organization – Fluoride Action Network – whose assertions I disprove with scientific evidence in my piece.

    As for the ‘facts’ you have shared … all are debunked in my piece. As I told Laurel, the hyperlinks are there for a reason.

    Example: Since you just made up what the WHO has said, Here you go – http://www.who.int/oral_health/events/oral%20healthc.pdf

  5. When I read your article, I knew this was another piece of misinformation in an attempt to keep the poison known as fluoride in our water. Its too bad that who you work for determines which side you are on. Water fluoridation is a control mechanism for the masses that calcifies a person’s pineal gland which plays an important part in spiritual abilities.

    I am glad that after reading this propaganda, the comments reassuringly point to the truth because that means people are starting to get educated on the truth about what is happening around them. To the writer of this article, I have a feeling you know the truth, but you want to mislead others away from the truth in an attempt to keep this illuminati-created dumbed-down way of life running. Shame on you.

  6. Dan – First of all I work for me, not anybody else. Also, yes I do, in fact, know ‘the truth’ about water fluoridation which is what my entire article is about.

    Sadly, as your comment demonstrates, no amount of conclusive, scientific evidence will ever be enough for those intent on living their lives according to discredited conspiracy theories.

  7. I find it very interesting that the only comments here are anti fluroide, which by the way I am. Also I happen to agree with the others who have posted here. There is such as a thing as too much can be hazardous to your health. We get fluoride in our toothpaste, mouthwash, and treatments when we go for dental cleanings…..that’s more than enough according to my dentist. He could be pushing it to get $80 bucks for the fluoride treatment but he knows the truth…too much isn’t always a good thing.

    I have also been told that fluoride is not good for porcelaine caps as it makes them crack over time. They are too expensive the first time around.

    Read the facts about what happens to kids who get too much flurode before the age of 8.

    I think your article is nothing more than propaganda….as Dan said before….to misinform the masses.

    You may be quoting a scientific study….by the way….which is one of many and they are not all pro fluoride. For you this will be the flavor of the day until the next study and the next and on……..

    I too hope council comes to their senses on this issue.

  8. Goldiesoxlady – once again, like all the others, you are spouting the very claims debunked by every study done on the issue – many of them which are sourced in my piece.

    Incredible how many people choose to live in ignorance. Then again, Fox News *is* a very popular channel…

  9. All of your quotes and “facts” are from highly corrupt companies who’s only interest is to make more money. The pharmaceutical companies are corrupt, the FDA is corrupt, and the WHO is also corrupt. And they are the ones that invented the word ‘conspiracy theory’.

    Imagine this: these rich corrupt owners of these companies all get together to discuss how they are all gonna control the population, their assets, and the chemicals that harm us. One says “So how are we gonna prevent people from figuring out what we are doing?” another replies with, “Just say it’s a conspiracy theory and they will feel dumb for even asking.” The first guy says, “Good idea! And we can incorporate that ignorant attitude into the public so the ones unknowingly being affected by our poisons will also say ‘Oh, it’s just a conspiracy’ and even write highly misleading blogs about it. It’s the greatest mind game to secure our interests, which is NOT the people.”

    Also, every non-mainstream scientist that tests fluoride comes out with negative results. This is because the highly corrupt pharmaceutical companies that are in charge of the water are also in charge of the media. It’s a giant monopoly on our health and well being.

    No matter how far you defend your side on this, you will always get beat because we know the truth, and this article isn’t it.

  10. Dan, you really should think about removing your tinfoil hat once in a while.

    Good grief.

    Do you have any evidence to support your claim that the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association, British Medical Association, American Dental Association, Canadian Dental Association, Centres for Disease Control, Pew Research Centre, Surgeon General, Nursing Associations around the world, not to mention State and Provincial Dental and Medical health Associations (just to name a few) are ‘corrupt’ and are ‘only out to make money’?

    Further, do you have any evidence of just how these groups supposedly make money off of fluoridated water?

  11. Of course! Because it’s You Tube it *must* be true!

    Here’s a bit of info – ingesting huge amounts of raw fluoride is bad for you.

    However, the compound added to water (either sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, or sodium fluorosilicate) in controlled amounts does not equal consuming vast amounts of raw fluoride.

    Still waiting for you to share links to ANY actual case studies in peer reviewed medical journals demonstrating the ‘horrors’ you assert water fluoridation leads to.

    Just an FYI – Iodine consumed in large, raw amounts is toxic. Are you going to start a crusade to save the world from table salt? (That’s right! Table salt is iodized as a preventative health measure!)

  12. Fact: Fluoride is a medication – try to get some from the pharmacy without a presription.
    Fact: Patients being given medications need to know the benefits, risks and have the ability to refuse to take it.
    Fact: water fluoridation does not allow for anyone to refuse this medication – this is a human rights issue.

  13. Fact: Fluoride is NOT a ‘medication’ in the sense you take it for an illness. Do you consider Iodine a medication? If so, I hope you’ll soon be hard at work to save Calgarians from ‘evil’ table salt!

  14. You have just admitted that you have no idea what you are talking about or at least haven’t bothered researching what you say – you simply refute something without any backing. I suggest you stop commenting on things that are important until you get your facts straight.

    Here are a few brand names for fluoride as a medication:
    Altaflor, Ethedent Chewable, Fluor-A-Day, Fluoritab, Flura-Drops, Flura-Loz, Flura-Tab, Karidium, Lozi-Flur, Luride, Nafrinse, Pharmaflur, Pharmaflur 1.1

    For example (Altaflor):

    “What is Altaflor (fluoride)?
    Fluoride is a substance that strengthens tooth enamel. This helps to prevent dental cavities.

    Fluoride is used as a medication to prevent tooth decay in people that have a low level of fluoride in their drinking water. Fluoride is also used to prevent tooth decay in people who undergo radiation of the head and/or neck, which may cause dryness of the mouth and an increased incidence of tooth decay.

    Fluoride may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide”

  15. I’m a nutritionist that practices alternative medicine. My partner and I have done studies on lab rats with fluoride. We had 25 rats drink purified water and a different 25 rats in another cage drink regular Calgary tapwater. After two weeks, we found the rats drinking the purified water had nothing wrong with them. The rats with the tapwater on the other hand started to develop small tumors in their brains and there were two rats with tumors developing in their stomach lining.
    We tested both groups of rats by then letting them run through a maze with a treat at the end. We found the rats that drank purified water were 20% faster at making it to the end than the rats with the tumors.
    This goes to show that not only is fluoride harmful to an individual, it also may dumb them down as well.

  16. Again Neil, it is not a ‘medication’ in the sense that it is not used to treat disease. It is a substance used in the prevention of dental caries (cavities) and to protect/retain tooth enamel.

    (Then again, some refer to vitamin C tablets ‘medication’ too)

    Note your cut and paste: “… to prevent tooth decay in people that have a low level of fluoride in their drinking water”.

    Precisely. Non-fluoridated water leads to expedited tooth decay — which is why water fluoridation is so important.

    They add Vitamins A & D to milk for a reason – to prevent ailments such as rickets. Are you going to rally against the ‘medication’ added to milk, too?

  17. “talkin reality” AKA Dan who already posted above –

    It is a sad thing that you feel the need to invent some elaborate story to further your disproven conspiracy theories.

    Your fictional account would be comical if not so pathetic.

    But I’ll play along – I look forward to you posting the full peer-reviewed and verified ‘study’ here for all to see!

    (and be sure to post as your pretend ‘nutritionist’ self and not your real self, Dan!)

  18. Is this sad face regarding the site crash, or that you were caught posting your fictional story under the alias ‘talkin’ reality’?

    I’m all for discussion and debate, but please — no more ridiculous stories.

  19. I don’t think you truly understand how corrupt the government and corporations are. You should try to download and watch a documentary called Food Matters. You will enjoy it 🙂 It’s really informative!

    I don’t wanna fight, or bullshit (sorry for that by the way), I just wanna spread a peaceful message with purely good intentions, and this fluoride=poison issue is only one of the many that are out there.

    PEACE AND LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Hey, no worries Dan! These debates can get passionate, but I truly appreciate you engaging in the discussion, even if we don’t agree.

    But it’s always important to stay honest — no wild stories, as that just distracts from the honest debate.

    On that note, thanks for your input!

  21. I find it amazing that you would debate whether fluoride is a medication. Anything that requries a prescription from a doctor would be considered a medication. You require a prescription to obtain fluoride. It appears to me you are trying to avoid the issue that water fluoridation delivers this medication to anyone who injests the water.
    Your argument about adding vitamins to milk doesn’t apply here because anyone can choose to not drink milk – you can’t avoid drinking water – it is essential to human life.
    People need to be able to choose. If you want fluoride – you can buy fluoridated toothpaste – anyone can do that if they want. However, you shouldn’t be forced to take it if you don’t want it. When fluoride is added to the water supply you have not choice. Doesn’t that bother you?

  22. Actually, you have a choice. You can buy and drink bottled water or buy a simple filtration system. Just because you don’t like those options doesn’t negate the fact that you HAVE a choice.

    If you feel that strongly about fluoridated water, put your money where your mouth is and exercise one of those options.

  23. Why should I be forced to pay $500 for a reverse osmosis water filtration system if you could get your fluoridated toothpaste for $3.00? By? the way, it wouldn’t even be an extra cost for you because you likely already buy fluoridated toothpaste. So it costs me an extra $500 and it costs you nothing – what is wrong with this picture?

  24. I’ve got a question: if water fluoridation is safe and effective and critical for dental health then why do almost all the cities in BC have non-fluoridated water and why does 98% of western europe refuse to fluoridate their water?

  25. I am astounded by your arrogance. I am not talking merely about myself, but about a population of people. Some people can’t afford a $500 reverse osmosis water filtration system or the luxury of buying enough bottled water to supply their family. Also, it is absorbed into your skin when you bath in it. To purchase a water filtration system to remove fluoride for your whole home would be in the range of $10,000.
    Or, if you want to go to a restaurant or a friend’s place you would have to bring your own water to drink? Are you crazy?
    We have no choice to be medicated. Anyone with half a brain can see that – why do you say absurd things like this?

  26. Nothing. If you have an issue with fluoridation, you can exercise your right to invest in a filtration system while the entire city continues to benefit from fluoridated water. (Also, seeing as you’re in Lethbridge, I’m not sure why you’re concerned about Calgary water.)

  27. In Canada it is not a Federal issue but a local issue. So, Areas that aren’t fully fluoridated either have adequate amounts of fluoride occurring naturally in their water, or the municipality has been lobbied by conspiracy theorist groups to remove it — against the advice of the medical, dental, and scientific communities.

    As for Western Europe, I’ll let the Epidemiologist (who commented on this post over at rabble.ca) answer your question:

    “Besides the paranoid delusions about the communists causing it all, antifluoridationinsts confuse what they want to be true with what exists. For example they say most of Europe does not have fluoridation. True they do not have it in the water: they put it in the salt. So they still get it. And most European countries have strong public dental services especially focussed on the schools and disadvantaged. Do they intend to expand that service here from its current minimal state?”

  28. I had no idea facts were arrogant.

    It’s true not all can afford a filtration system. However, those who can’t afford it are the LEAST likely to be worried about fluoridated water. In fact, they are the very ones who benefit — given that they are the ones who are unable to afford regular dental visits.

    As for your assertion that skin absorbs the fluoride compound in fluoridated water … wow. I suggest you remove your tinfoil hat before commenting further. You are exposing yourself as a hardcore conspiracist.

    Fact, straight from the Centres for Disease Control: “Physical contact with fluoride content water, such as bathing or dishwashing, is safe since fluoride does not pass through the skin.”

    Talk about half-brained absurd things…

  29. I think you have things backwards. The poor are the ones most disadvantaged because they can’t avoid a waterbourne medication if they don’t want it. Although you have made an attempt at discounting this issue – it still remains that people do not have a choice – especially the poor – they are least likely to be able to afford bottled water or a reverse osmosis system to remove the medication that they don’t want.
    Again, 98% of western europe refuses to fluoridate their water based at least partly on this human rights issue – we should be able to refuse it as well.

    From what I can sense – you are willing to argue anything to promote your own agenda. You definitely aren’t interested in considering anything that has merit when it disagrees with what you are trying to promote. I think you need to ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing and whether it is promoting the general wellbeing of humanity or hindering it.

  30. Putting fluoride in salt means people have a choice. You don’t have to use salt and in fact many people are cautioned to not add salt to their food. No doubt there are many people in Europe who even choose “Non-Fluoride” salt. They have the choice to either purchase salt or use no salt at all. They have a choice. There is no choice with water fluoridation – everyone is medicated whether they want it or not.

  31. Neil – You asked why they don’t have fluoridated water, I pointed out it’s because they have fluoridated salt. And yes, they have a choice whether or not to use salt, but chances are they do … I’ve yet to meet a single person who doesn’t use salt. Not to mention how the fluoridated salt is used in the preparation and production of food and drink — meaning they get the fluoridated salt whether they know it or not.

    Again, you HAVE a choice. You can invest in bottled water or a filtration system. You *have* that choice.

    And no, I do not have it backwards. The poor and disadvantages are *not* the ones kvetching about fluoridated water … they are in fact the very ones who benefit most. (Read the data). They are far more concerned about keeping a roof over their and being able to pay their bills to simply keep the water turned on than they are about fluoridation.

    You say “Again, 98% of western europe refuses to fluoridate their water based at least partly on this human rights issue”. No, actually it’s *not* a human rights issue at all. The don’t have fluoridated water because they have fluoridated salt.

    But you are free to keep inventing your own reality to serve your flawed logic.

    As for this: “ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing and whether it is promoting the general wellbeing of humanity or hindering it.”

    Why I am doing what? Presenting facts and debunking conspiracies? Because I enjoy living in a world where facts matter.

    And the fact is, fluoridated water – to use your words – “is promoting the general wellbeing of humanity”.

    Further, shouldn’t you be doing something constructive with your time? The last time I checked, the AHS was a disorganized mess. Maybe you should focus on that instead of chasing conspiracies.

  32. Good article. I covered a similar story a few months back, as the City of Waterloo, Ontario (where I am…pretty much) discussed the same, tired, poor science.

    The comments section in my article (here) brought out all the lunatic fringe, anti-fluoridation activists, as I see they’ve come here in force as well.

    I addressed many of the same points you did, and discussed a few other arguments that you touch on. Isn’t it embarrassing that in 2011, we’re still dealing with this kind of paranoia (usually launched by middle-class and the affluent)?

    Good article, and good luck. Reason and science lost in Waterloo, hopefully Calgary will fare better.

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