Fluoride: Show Me Your Teeth?
On January 25, 1965 the city of Grand Rapids Michigan added fluoride to their municipal water system, thus beginning what the Center for Disease Control(CDC) considers one of the top 10 public health innovations of the 20th century. Fluoride’s dental benefits had been discovered during the 1930’s when dental scientists found lower levels of tooth decay with people who live in areas where their water supplies contained natural levels of fluoride. Six years after the initial fluoridation of Grand Rapids water the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council (NRC) reviewed the results of the experiment and found a significant decline in childhood tooth decay and declared fluoridation safe, effective and beneficial. Currently 195 million Americans (about 72%) are served by community water sources that have fluoride added. Cost benefit analysis by the CDC show that for large communities of more than 20,000 where it costs about 50 cents per person, every $1 invested in fluoridation yields savings of approximately $38 in dental savings.
But lately the fluoridation of community water has become a controversial subject. Many people believe that the practice of adding fluoride was initiated without proper testing and knowledge of negative long term heath effects. Though fluoride is considered beneficial for most children, too much fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis, which appears as permanent color discoloration of the teeth formed in young children(<8 years of age) during tooth development. In the United States fluoride dilution recommendations had been .7 to 1.2 mg/l depending on climate(people in colder areas need to drink less water so they needed a higher dilution) but the recommendation changed to .7 mg/l since fluoride can now be found in a multitude of products inclouding childrens’ products like baby formula.
Fluoridation of water needs to be strictly monitored because severe overfluoridation can result in accidental acute fluoride poisoning. In 1992 in 296 Alaskans grew ill and one died during a fluoride poisoning outbreak. Organizations like the The Fluoride Action Network (FAN) are concerned that there are more negative health affects that can be attributed to the fluoridation of water and works together with communities to halt fluoridation of community water sources. If you go on to FAN webpage they can link fluoride to cancer, arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, neurological disorders, brittle bones, and the calcification of the pineal glands. Whether or not these links are true fluoride needs to be strictly monitored because of the risk of toxicity.
Fluoride can be found being added in water all over the world. In Middle Eastern countries like Israel law requires that fluoride be added to the water. But in countries like the United States communities are voting to halt this practice because of health concerns. Fluoride is found as an additive in everyday products like bottled water, soda and toothpaste and some people feel that it should be their choice how much fluoride they consume. Since October 2010 29 communities, including communities in the United States, Canada , and New Zealand, have voted to halt the fluoridation of their community. Whether this is to the communities benefit only time will tell.
For more information on the Fluoride Action Network and their research visit: FluorideAlert.org
For the CDC’s recommendations on fluoride consumption visit : http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/index.htm