Alex Berger: Keep fluoridation out
May 24, 2013
On Tuesday, the residents of Portland, Ore., soundly defeated an attempt to add fluoridation chemicals to the drinking water by a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent just six months after Wichita, Kan., residents did the same. The two cities join a list of more than 125 communities that have rejected fluoridation by either a council decision or ballot vote since 2010.
In opposing fluoridation, Portland voters agreed with the position of most Western nations that there are safer, more effective, and less intrusive ways to promote oral health than adding a chemical linked to thyroid disease, IQ loss and other ailments to the water supply.
Most Western countries, including the vast majority of Europe, do not fluoridate their water. In fact, shortly before Portland's vote, Israel announced that it will be ending its mandatory fluoridation program and Ireland has proposed legislation making it a criminal offense to add fluoride to public water supplies. In Canada, the number of people drinking fluoridated water has dropped by about 25 percent since 2008.
Fluoride chemicals are the only chemicals added to public water for the purpose of medication (to purportedly prevent tooth decay). Citizens want their water departments to provide safe potable water, not dental treatments. Let's keep fluoride supplementation between patients and their practitioners.
Research shows no significant difference in the number of cavities for U.S. communities with and without fluoride in the drinking water. As another example, the vast majority of Western European countries do not fluoridate; yet the dental health of Western Europe is no worse than in the U.S. communities that fluoridate.
It's time we join Portland, Wichita and the rest of the world in our opposition to fluoridation. Fluoride consumption should be a choice, not a mandate.
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Fluoridating water appears neither necessary nor effective. The Oral Health Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that fluoride's benefit comes from topical contact. Brushing your teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride is the most common topical application. Swallowing fluoride provides no known benefits.
Fluoridating water is not safe. It is accepted that fluoridation causes severe problems for some individuals. Kidney patients are told to avoid fluoride, and the CDC recommends that bottled water with less fluoride be used when mixing infant formula.
Fluoridation provides an uncontrolled fluoride dose. Fluoridation began before research showed that fluoride's benefits were due to topical application, not ingestion. And finally, fluoridation began before all its side effects were known.