From: Chris Carroll
The journal Pediatrics says the continued controversy over fluoride represents the greatest triumph of quackery over science in the 20th century. I guess they can rest their case, because here we go again. Here I was, trying to settle back into retirement from pediatric dentistry, when yet another “somebody’s been on the internet” letter pops up in the paper … “Get fluoride out of the water.” I guess I’ll come out of retirement to respond to this.
The letter claims that community water fluoridation doesn’t work. In reality, water fluoridation is one of the most studied public health measures in history. There have been hundreds of scientific studies from all around the world, including one done here in Winona. Our study showed what all the others showed. There was a dramatic reduction in tooth decay for both the primary (baby) and permanent teeth once the water was fluoridated. That it works and works remarkably well is now so firmly established as to be beyond debate.
The letter also claims it causes myriad human ills: hypothyroidism, cancer, decreased fertility, hip fractures, DNA damage, lower IQ, increased lead absorption, and everything else but the heebie-jeebies. Also dusted off was: the communists used it to make people “dull, cow-like, and more resigned to their slavery.” However, according to the American Public Health Association, “none of these claims of deleterious health effects have been supported by studies of scientific merit.” The truth being, no legitimate or replicated epidemiological, laboratory, or clinical study has demonstrated that lifelong fluoride at optimal levels in our drinking water causes disease in any form.
Americans have been receiving the benefits of water fluoridation for 75 years now, and, as Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy points out, during that time each generation has enjoyed better dental health than the one before it. And looking at pre-fluoride America, it is hard to argue. For example, as World War II approached, in order to join the U.S. Army, a young man was required to have only six out of 16 back teeth, three on top, and three on the bottom, and those teeth needed to oppose each other, of course. The single most common cause for military deferment was the inability to meet even this level of dental health. Would the author of the letter have us return to those good old days?
I practiced pediatric dentistry for over 40 years, in several areas of the country, I have taught at two universities, and I have had the privilege of caring for around 20,000 children, both rural and urban. I know the difference that fluoride makes. The American Center for Disease Control says that the fluoridation of public water supplies is one of the top 10 public health measures of the 20th century, and every major health science, dental and medical organization in the world endorses it. I think I’ll have to back them up on that.