My Turn: Go with the expert advice: Fluoridate the water

Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2007

Community water fluoridation is not a new and untried experiment. Millions of people have drunk naturally fluoridated water for generations.

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In fact, more than 68 percent of the U.S. population served by community water systems has water with adjusted fluoride to optimal levels for reduction in tooth decay, and that percentage is increasing.

Cities including Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and San Diego have or are in the process of implementing fluoridation to improve dental health. The United States Public Health Service has reviewed studies on the benefits and potential risks with water fluoridation at levels for reduction in tooth decay (0.7-1.2 ppm) and found fluoridation at these levels to be safe and effective. Opponents have often referred to issues and a recent report on the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of fluoride in water at 4.0 ppm in their statements and are attempting to confuse the issue with levels recommended by USPHS.

Incidentally, many of the arguments used against fluoridation of water were also used against chlorination of water supplies in the early 1900s. Every day, Juneau dumps large quantities of chlorine (poison) into its water supply, with excellent results. They dump in enough to kill germs, but they do not put in enough to harm anyone. For a person to rest his or her case on the notion that the small amount of fluoride added to Juneau's water system to prevent tooth decay is a poison is something like asserting that you can drown in water so don't take a bath. Kind of foolish, isn't it?

I have expended considerable time and effort checking the original sources cited by those who oppose community water fluoridation. My conclusion, they just do not have a case. That is probably the reason why there are so many fantastic assertions in anti-fluoridation literature. This is an old technique - make so many charges that some doubt or fear is bound to rub off, no matter how baseless the charges happen to be.

Those opposed to community water fluoridation will continue to make charge after charge, and cite case after case of some individual supposedly harmed by drinking fluoridated water, but these charges cannot stand up against the facts. How much proof would you like? Is research based on 30 million users enough? And if 30 million is not enough, then how about 300 million in more than 40 countries worldwide? Personally, I lean toward believing the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association and more than 100 local, national, and international organizations that support water fluoridation after careful and thorough investigation over many years, in many areas, and under many conditions.

Community water fluoridation isn't going to help you if you put your teeth in a glass of water at night, but it will help all of those in Juneau who are trying to keep theirs.

• Karen Lawfer is a member of Citizens Promoting Dental Health and Juneau resident.



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