To Fluoride Or Not To Fluoride, That Is The Question

January 31st, 2011
To Fluoride Or Not To Fluoride, That Is The Question

Some may have thought the debate over fluoridation is over, but it seems not.

Apparently in Canada the debate has been thrown wide open once more by the new administration of Calgary.

Why this dispute is continuing is somewhat of a mystery since fluoridation of water supply has been around for a long time now, and any reports of adverse affects are seemingly very minimal, if there are any at all.

The debate has been going on for a long time now – since the 1950’s in fact, with even organisations such as the US Centre for Disease Control making the observation that water fluoridation was, to use their words: “the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.”

So, what are the arguments for and against?

Most dentists on both sides of the Atlantic agree that fluoridation has helped improve dental health for the past 60 years. The major argument in favour is that it has significantly reduced caries the major reason for tooth loss, and adverse risks are minimal.

In fact the pro camp says the only possible adverse affect is dental fluorosis, a condition which affects the development of teeth in babies and infants, the critical period being 1 – 4 years. But even this is not affecting many children. Children over 8 are not affected at all.

Those in the anti camp have offered a range of objections over the decades from a Communist conspiracy to undermine public health to developing long term illnesses including cancer. As for the latter, a study was carried out in Australia to try to find a link between fluoridation and bone cancer in particular and cancer generally. No clear link was established.

More recently the World Health Organisation began researching fluoridation of toothpaste. Whether this research finds problems will be interesting.

As for Calgary Council, how far they will go against the current advice of both dentists and most health authorities will be interesting to watch. The latter has publicly stated that fluoridation of water supplies is “the most cost-effective, inexpensive and simplest way of delivering oral health to all children…”

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