I became aware that competent people disagree on fluoride when my physician suggested I stop giving pediatrician-prescribed fluoride to my then-young son. As the question arose in Davis this year, I investigated medical literature and scholarly publications. Brian Martin’s nonpartisan assessment is compelling: Scientific evidence supports both sides, so science has no answer to this controversy. It is a values debate.
It is easy for an individual to add fluoride to his life, but hard to remove fluoride from one’s fluoridated water supply. Unlike chlorine, which evaporates or can be filtered out, fluoride requires reverse osmosis or distillation — tedious processes that strip desirable minerals.
Unlike excess vitamins which the body excretes, fluoride deposits build up over life. Medical professionals describe fluoridation’s bad effects in journals indexed by the National Library of Medicine. Those effects stem from long-term accumulation.
Martin’s scholarly book, exploring the social dynamic of the fluoridation debate, notes: in publishing, research funding and professional accreditation, the power of the dental profession is against anti-fluoridationists. Public discourse often becomes attacks on the credibility of individuals, therefore many environmental health scientists avoid research in this area. The issue of fluoridation might not have arisen in this form — or even become an issue at all — had the historical configuration of corporate interests and the dental profession been different.
I feel as if pro-fluoridation advocates call us to support a war to better the world (reduce cavities among the economically disadvantaged), whether or not the potential beneficiaries wish such intervention (despite a study showing those disadvantaged don’t trust tap water for their children). We are urged on, even knowing there will be physical costs (mottled teeth, increased risk of cancer among young men, perhaps increased fractures among the elderly, difficulties for those intolerant of fluoride or with kidney problems). People who speak against the call are labeled uninformed or unfeeling.
Fluoridation’s expense would prevent our pursuing options that offer more positive outcomes, Leaders, please take this opportunity to stand for pure water and fiscal health.