Municipal water fluoridation within the U.S. began in 1945 in Grand Rapids, MI and now impacts nearly two thirds of all Americans. Although the rate of dental caries has indeed declined in recent decades, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates this trend has occurred in all developed countries, including those that do not fluoridate their water (or salt) supply. Cavity protection achieved through the use of fluoride is of a topical nature, therefore, the widespread use of fluoride containing toothpastes and rinses is likely the true cause of reduction in cavities. The ingestion of fluoride has not been shown to have any statistically significant effect on the number of cavities in either children or adults; the practice does, however, create a number of health concerns shared by a growing body of professionals and citizens alike. A mountain of scientific evidence exists linking fluoride exposure with neurological and skeletal disorders, endocrine disruptions, the development of cancer and more. While the majority of European nations have banned municipal water fluoridation, the U.S. remains one of the few developed countries to continue with this archaic practice.
Dental Caries Have Declined With and Without Water Fluoridation
WHO data clearly shows a decline in the number of dental cavities in children and adults over the last several decades. What is interesting, however, is that the same rate of decline has occurred in countries that fluoridate their water (or salt) supplies and those that do not. This pattern indicates that another factor besides water fluoridation is behind the improvement in oral health (most researchers believe fluoride containing toothpastes and mouth rinses are the common factors responsible for the decline). The Cochrane Collaboration conducted a review of every study which attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of water fluoridation and has come to the same independent conclusion revealed by WHO data: the ingestion of fluoride has no statistically significant impact on the number of cavities in permanent or baby teeth. They also noted the shockingly low quality of the vast majority of studies conducted on water fluoridation, stating that most contained too much bias and/or were of an insufficient size to be meaningful.
No Benefits Yet A Mountain of Negative Health Effects
The Fluoride Action Network (FAN) recently presented the EPA with a collection of 2,500 pages of scientific evidence documenting the negative health effects resulting from ingestion of fluoride, even at levels considered “safe” by numerous regulatory bodies in the U.S. A partial list of these undesirable effects includes:
- Reduced IQ and other neurological effects, such as neurochemical imbalances;
- Endocrine disruptions and low thyroid function (hypothyroidism);
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral disorders;
- Arthritis and/or joint pain as well as an increased prevalence of bone fractures (patients with extreme cases are recognized as having skeletal fluorosis);
- An increased risk of certain types of cancers.
The CDC acknowledges that more than 40 percent of adolescents in the country exhibit signs of dental fluorosis (mottling of the tooth enamel), yet the organization contends that this condition is strictly cosmetic in nature. Unfortunately, many researchers believe that dental fluorosis is an outward indication of internal damage that has already occurred as a result of excessive fluoride ingestion.
Continued Support of Water Fluoridation Despite Logical Reasoning
The CDC acknowledges that fluoride provides cavity protection via topical application, being absorbed by tooth enamel and creating a surface which is more resistant to the acids secreted by cavity causing bacteria. However, they claim an important aspect of water fluoridation involves the protection of members of lower income households who may lack access to proper dental care. Such arguments in support of water fluoridation defy logical reasoning, as statistics show those below the national poverty level suffer from a higher than average rate of cavities (despite water fluoridation). This group also experiences a higher than average rate of dental fluorosis and is more likely to be harmed by high concentrations of lead which develop when the silicofluorides used to fluoridate the municipal water supply interact with lead pipes contained in many older homes.
Certain Populations at Greater Risk
Along with scientific evidence documenting harm, FAN has requested that the EPA utilize their authority authorized under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to officially ban the practice of water fluoridation throughout the country. They state the importance of considering the needs of members of society who are most susceptible to the harmful effects of fluoride ingestion, including infants, young children, the elderly, people with renal or genetic disorders and those with deficiencies in their diets. They have reminded the EPA that the majority of European countries have rejected the use of fluoride in their water and salt supplies, as these countries do not support the concept of “mass medication” without consent. Will the EPA finally take note over growing concerns surrounding the safety of water fluoridation, or will class action lawsuits be necessary to bring forth change? A number of such lawsuits have already been filed against manufacturers of certain fluoride containing products as well as municipal bodies throughout the nation. If you or a loved one have experienced the effects of excessive fluoride exposure, an experienced attorney may be able to help you obtain compensation for related damages.