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Another chapter in the great fluoride debate

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.

3 Responses »

  1. People everywhere are learning the truth that fluoridation is ineffective for teeth and dangerous to health, so only 5% of the world and only 3% of Europe fluoridate their drinking water. Yet Europe has a better tooth decay rate that those coungtries which do fluoridate.
    Israel and Queensland both ended mandatory fluoridation within the last year.

    To see why, Google "Fluoride dangers" and read a few of the 800,000 articles.

    If fluoride works at all it works on the outside of the tooth not from inside the body. Thus there is no need to expose the whole body to a known toxic substance for a lifetime with every glass of water drunk. And there is no rational reason to force people to drink it against their will.

  2. As the recent Ham-Nye debate over creationism amply demonstrates, large segments of the population, including people who ought to know better, can be persuaded to believe patently unscientific claims. According to a Gallup poll, 47% of Americans believe the world was created in 6 days 6000 years ago. A shocking statistic in the 21st century in the leading scientific country on the planet. And the evolution deniers have all sorts of "science" to support their pretensions.

    Have we ever had an opinion poll on fluoridation? If we did one, I wouldn't be surprised if overall in the US, belief in fluoridation would be above 90%, including the health practitioners and administrators people depend on to keep them healthy. My impression of sensible Canadians is that probably there are more fluoridation skeptics, but still I expect a majority of Canadians believe in fluoridation too.

    In this article, Dr. Katchky, like most fluoridation apologists, paints Dr. Paul Connett as a lone maverick, when in fact he speaks for several thousand scientists and health practitioners who have formed in international organization devoted to setting the record straight on fluoridation. The "reams of material" Dr. Katchky knows about but has not perused consist of many hundreds of scientific studies conducted by researchers around the world, including Canada and the US, that document the risks of fluoride exposure at levels imposed on entire populations by fluoridation, and clear evidence that tooth decay has declined everywhere around the world, whether or not water was fluoridated.

    But all that documentation is really not necessary to call belief in fluoridation into question. It was stated from the outset that fluoridation would cause dental fluorosis--discolored tooth enamel. It was guestimated--no scientific trial was done--that fluoridation would cause fluorosis in about 10% of the population. Seventy years later the figure in the US stands at around 40%. Fluorosis is permanent disfigurement that is emotionally traumatic. In what universe is government entitled to impose this affliction on anyone? In what universe is any health profession entitled to advocate this? What do you say, Dr. Katchky?

    And what is the physiological mechanism that results in fluorosis? Fluorosis is the result of poisoning of the enamel-building cells (ameloblasts) by fluoride circulating in the blood so that the enamel they produce is weakened and discolored. Fluorosis is a biomarker of chronic fluoride poisoning. If fluoride is circulating in the blood and poisoning ameloblasts, is it also poisoning other cells? Is fluoride poisoning continuing after tooth formation is complete? What do you think, Dr. Katchky?

    Dental fluorosis makes poisoning by fluoridation self-evident. But even if there were no such visible proof, it is a clear violation of health care ethics and of civil liberties to impose blanket treatment on entire populations--young, old, healthy or not.

    Creationism is but one example of the power of mass mind-molding by religion that troubles much of humanity. And history reminds us that governments also wield mass mind-molding power as in the uncanny acceptance and persistence of fluoridation.

    As Carl Sagan observed: "One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

    N'est-ce pas, Dr. Katchky?

  3. you see a difference in those who consume filtered water (which often contains fluoride by the way)? That's interesting, considering several cities in Canada and numerous countries around the world that have never fluoridated their water see the same cavity rates as those that do. Several studies cited here: http://fluoridealert.org/studies/caries02/

    This has nothing to do with conspiracy theories and everything to do with facts. Dentists need to stop parroting everything the CDA tells them and start doing their own research. Do you even know the difference between the fluoride in tap water and the fluoride in toothpaste?

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