Recently the city of Toronto was paid a visit by Dr. Paul Connett, executive director of the Fluoride Action Network and its parent organization, the American Environmental Health Studies Project. Dr. Connett is a retired chemistry professor who formerly held a teaching position at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York.
In his retirement, Dr. Connett has become the self-proclaimed world leader in the anti-fluoridation movement, travelling the globe to garner support among lobby groups for the elimination of fluoridation of drinking water by municipal governments. His objections to fluoridation are many and varied. Among them are claims that fluoride is ineffective, dangerous and an infringement on civil liberties.
Like his predecessor in the movement, Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, Dr. Connett has written and posted reams of material, and travelled widely to promote his point of view.
Through the efforts of his followers and lobbyists, fluoride has been removed from the municipal water supply in more than 30 communities in Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Most notable to Canadian observers of the debate are the recent elimination of municipal fluoridation in Calgary and Kitchener-Waterloo.
With this push against fluoride, you may wonder what the broader scientific community feels about fluoride. In fact, over 90 scientific and health organizations strongly support the continued practice of fluoridation as a means of preventing dental disease. Included in this vast majority are the American Dental Association, the Canadian Dental Association, The American Medical Association, the Canadian Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the Centres for Disease Control, just to name a few.
If you were to ask Dr. Connett about the position of these groups, he would likely claim that we are simply witnessing a government and industry conspiracy to poison us through our water supply.
For the conspiracy theorists out there, consider also the position of independent scientific bodies. Leading research-producing universities in Canada and the US have and continue to support the practice of water fluoridation.
Independent medical review boards, such as those of the American Cancer Society and the Canadian Cancer Society, have found no link between water fluoridation at present levels and disease.
From the vast body of evidence and opinion, it appears that the anti-fluoride movement has gained traction through lobbying rather than science.
What do practicing dentists, those of us who spend a large part of our days treating dental decay, feel about fluoridation? We have seen the difference between those who consume tap water and those who filter or drink alternative water sources. We have also seen the huge decline in cavities in those born in Toronto after 1959 (when fluoridation began in Toronto), and the recent rise in rates of decay since the movement away from tap water.
That is why the vast majority of practicing dentists in the GTA still strongly recommend fluoridation.