In many communities around the US, the government adds sodium fluoride to the water supply in the attempt to reduce people’s amount of cavities. There is actually a tremendous amount of controversy over the safety of fluoride in our drinking water. This week we will be running a 5-part series on fluoride so that you understand the issues.
Here’s an introduction to the two opposing views…
There are a number of dentists and organizations that promote the addition of fluoride to our drinking water because of some studies that show that in communities in which naturally occurring fluoride is present in the water the cavity rate is lower. The proponents of fluoride state that the use of fluoride has lowered cavities by 25% to 35% in the USA.
On the other side of the issue a number of prominent scientists strongly disagree with the practice of fluoridating water. Scientists opposed to fluoridation dispute the accuracy of the study data that the proponents of fluoridation use. They have other concerns as well.
- While almost all other industrial nations have banned the fluoridation of public water supplies, the cavity rate in these nations continues to go down. They point out that fluoride is not an essential nutrient and that general nutrition and mouth hygiene play a larger role in avoiding cavities.
- They say that fluoridation is the result of strong lobbying from large corporations. They point to political and financial incentives for organizations to support fluoridation.
- Fluoride is toxic, and they point to a number of studies that suggest a link between fluoride and long-term health problems such as bone cancer.
- The form of fluoride that the government adds to the water is not the same as what is found in nature, but rather is an industrial by-product and is not pharmaceutical grade.
- Sodium fluoride has never been approved by the FDA, but rather was “grandfathered” in.
- Finally, scientists against fluoridating water supplies site an ethical problem because they say that it’s unethical to medicate everybody without their consent and with no controls of how much dosage each person gets.
BOTH SIDES AGREE
One point that both sides agree on is that it is not healthy to give fluoridated water to infants under 6 months old.