There’s no shortage of controversial topics on the news most evenings, but there’s at least one topic that shouldn’t be as controversial as it seems. It’s the great debate many towns across America are facing these days: to fluoridate or not to fluoridate the water - that, as they say, is the question. So, who’s right: The anti-fluoride activists who claim that fluoridating the water supply can cause everything from low IQ to cancer, or the medical community who say fluoridating the water helps reduce dental caries (cavities)? Decide for yourself.
Around the country and the world, a growing number of people are rejecting fluoride in their community water supply. Why? Because they have been led to believe that fluoride is responsible for a laundry list of medical problems later in life. The real problem here isn’t the fluoride, but the science behind these claims.
First of all, the report that claims fluoride in the water supply causes cancer is from 1976 that has since been widely discredited. Another report from 2012 linked fluoride to low IQs among residents in a community in China with an abnormally high level of naturally occurring fluoride in their water supply. That report was also discredited, as the rate of fluoride in the water in that community was far higher than what we allow in the United States. Too much of anything - including fluoride and even water in general - can be dangerous. So while, yes, too much fluoride has been found to be harmful, there’s little chance of encountering that much fluoride here in the USA, even between fluoridated water, toothpaste and foods with fluoride (either enhanced or naturally occurring).
Just as there’s a strong anti-fluoride lobby, there is an even stronger pro-fluoride lobby. That’s because the data doesn’t lie: People in communities with fluoridated water have been proven to have fewer dental caries (cavities) than people in communities that don’t have fluoridated water. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, approximately 370 million people around the world benefit from fluoridated water! That’s a pretty good sample size.
The bottom line with fluoride is that the data speaks for itself: If well regulated and controlled, fluoride works to help strengthen the enamel and protect the teeth. And that’s a pretty big reason to smile.