On one hand, you could make the case that fluoridated water is an effective mass preventative health measure for citizens. However, on the other, you can make a case that fluoridated water is hazardous to your well-being. Public water sources have been adding fluoride since the 1940’s, but people have objected ever since.
Some of these objections are wild. Conspiracy theorists claim that fluoridation is a communist plot to undermine American public health. But some are compelling. “The addition of fluoride to the public water supply violates the individual’s right to informed consent to medical or human treatment” Regardless, the sum of these objections is that a large number of people have moved away from drinking fluoridated water.
Fluoride is not the way to prevent cavities
In recent years, entire cities have stopped adding fluoride to public drinking water. In fact, in January 2015, the city of Dallas heavily debated the idea of removing fluoride from the city’s water supply. Ultimately city officials voted to keep fluoridating the water. Dallas City Council member, Sheffie Kadane, argued against fluoridation. “‘You ingest that fluid, you take it into your belly, you eliminate it,’ so clearly fluoride in the water supply does nothing. ‘Unless you spread it on,’ he insisted, ‘it’s not helping in any way shape or form. Dental hygiene is the way to prevent cavities … it’s not by using fluoride.’ In other words, dental cavities are not caused by a lack of fluoride. They are however caused by the consistent use of refined sugar, sugary soft drinks, and processed foods in general, lack of dental hygiene, and mineral deficiencies.
Adding Fluoride takes away the right to consent
State and Local governments have the right to choose whether to fluoridate their water supplies. A popular argument against mass fluoridation is that this method strips individuals of their consent to medical treatment. You no longer have a choice to use or deny fluoride unless you drink only bottled water. These people contend that fluoridation overrides the common good. These groups also classify fluoridated water as “mass medication”. Though some positive outcomes exist, many communities are putting an end to this “ mass medication” and placing dental care back into the hands of individual residents.
Fluoridated Water is not regulated by the EPA or FDA
The FDA has never approved the addition of fluoride in water. Currently, they classify fluoridated water as an “unapproved drug”. For many, this is a deterrent to drinking from public water sources. Without federal approval, how can we know that the fluoride is regulated and safely administered? “Once fluoride is added to the water supply, there is no way of controlling the dose; it goes to everyone regardless of age, weight, health, need, or nutritional status”. There is evidence that children in fluoridated cities are being overexposed to fluoride. “According to the CDC, 41 percent of American children aged 12-15 have some form of dental fluorosis.” Over-ingestion of fluoride during tooth formation causes fluorosis which leads to discoloration and hypermineralization.
Is Fluoridation Effective?
Alongside other arguments, many people disagree with mass fluoridation due to a lack of evidence that proves its effectiveness. Existing evidence that supports reduced dental decay by way of ingesting fluoride is weak and inconclusive. In fact, there are many studies, such as one by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, that suggest fluoride ingestion causes more harm than good.
There are numerous arguments, both big and small, that target the negative effects of water fluoridation. Last week we talked about the positive side of water fluoridation, and this week we looked at the flip side. Where do you stand? If you have any questions about the fluoride in your water or want to hear our stance on fluoride, don’t hesitate to ask during your next appointment!