50 Reasons To Oppose Fluoridation
Abstract Water fluoridation is the practice of adding compounds containing fluoride to the water supply to produce a final concentration of fluoride of 1 part per million in an effort to prevent tooth decay. Trials first began in the US in 1945, but before any of these trials were complete, the practice was endorsed by the US Public.
Health Service in 1950. Since then fluoridation has been enthusiastically and universally promoted by US health officials as being a “safe and effective” for fighting tooth decay. However, even though most countries worldwide have not succumbed to America’s enthusiasm for this practice, their teeth are just as good, if not better, than those countries that have. The “50 Reasons” offered in this article for opposing fluoridation are based on a thorough review of the scientific literature as regards both the risks and benefits of being exposed to the fluoride ion. Documentation is offered which indicates that the benefits of ingested fluoride have been exaggerated, while the numerous risks have been downplayed or ignored.
This document, titled “50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation,” has an interesting history. In October 2000, Dr. Hardy Limeback and I were invited by Ireland’s Ministry of Health and Children to present our concerns about water fluoridation to a panel called the “Fluoridation Forum.” We accepted. Ireland is the only country in Europe which has mandatory fluoridation and currently, over 70% of the Irish population is drinking fluoridated water.
When fluoridation opponents in Ireland heard that we had agreed to testify they were furious. They believed that this forum had been set up by the government merely to appear to deal with growing discontent about fluoridation. Opponents believed that most of the Forum panel members had been hand picked to “whitewash” fluoridation, and by testifying, Dr. Limeback and I would give an illusion of legitimacy to an illegitimately established process and any product it produced. We were in a dilemma. Although we also suspected that the opponents were correct in thinking the Forum was merely a rubber stamp for government policy, we both had a strong desire to bring the best science available to the panel. Had we chosen not to appear, proponents could have argued that there was no valid, scientific case to be made against fluoridation. In the face of fierce opposition we proceeded to testify. In my testimony, however, I explained that many citizens felt the forum was “fixed.” Then I offered the panel a challenge that could demonstrate to the Irish people and to us that the panel was truly going to perform an objective review of the issue. I presented the “50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation” and asked the panel to prepare a written, scientifically documented response and to make it publicly available.
Initially, the panel agreed and set up a sub-committee to do this. Forum minutes over the next year indicate several exchanges about how much progress was being made with the task. However, shortly before the Forum report was completed, it was announced that the panel didn’t have time to complete its answers. The cover excuse was that most of the 50 reasons were actually addressed in their 296 page report. This was blatantly untrue. Subsequently, a group of 11 scientists, including Dr. Limeback and myself, issued a detailed critique of the Forum’s report which can be accessed at http://www.fluoridealert.org/irish.forum-critique.htm It now has been three and a half years since the “50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation” was presented to the Fluoridation Forum, and even though the Irish Minister of Health and Children, Mr. Michael Martin, has been questioned about this document in the Irish parliament, there still has been no formal answer to the questions. Meanwhile, citizens in other fluoridated countries (e.g. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) have asked their own local, state and federal health officials to respond to the “50 Reasons” document – also to no avail).
1) Fluoride is not an essential nutrient (NRC 1993 and IOM 1997). No disease has ever been linked to a fluoride deficiency. Humans can have perfectly good teeth without fluoride.
2) Fluoridation is not necessary. Most Western European countries are not fluoridated and have experienced the same decline in dental decay as the US (See data from World Health Organization in Appendix 1, and the time trends presented graphically at http://www.fluoridealert.org/who-dmft.htm ). The reasons given by countries for not fluoridating are presented in Appendix 2.)
3) Fluoridation’s role in the decline of tooth decay is in serious doubt. The largest survey ever conducted in the US (over 39,000 children from 84 communities) by the National Institute of Dental Research showed little difference in tooth decay among children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities (Hileman 1989). According to NIDR researchers, the study found an average difference of only 0.6 DMFS (Decayed Missing and Filled Surfaces) in the permanent teeth of children aged 5-17 residing in either fluoridated or unfluoridated areas (Brunelle and Carlos, 1990). This difference is less than one tooth surface! There are 128 tooth surfaces in a child’s mouth. This result was not shown to be statistically significant. In a review commissioned by the Ontario government, Dr. David Locker concluded:
“The magnitude of [fluoridation’s] effect is not large in absolute terms, is often not statistically significant and may not be of clinical significance” (Locker 1999).
4) Where fluoridation has been discontinued in communities from Canada, the former East Germany, Cuba and Finland, dental decay has not increased but has actually decreased 2 (Maupome 2001; Kunzel and Fischer,1997,2000; Kunzel 2000 and Seppa 2000).
5) There have been numerous recent reports of dental crises in US cities (e.g. Boston, Cincinnati, New York City) which have been fluoridated for over 20 years. There appears to be a far greater (inverse) relationship between tooth decay and income level than with water fluoride levels.