Letter: Does Drinking Water Fluoride Reduce Cavities?

The idea of adding fluoride to the water supplies began some 60 years ago in this country. Water fluoridation supporters claimed back then, and today, that there has been a significant drop in cavities across the U.S. population, a direct result of adding fluoride to drinking water supplies. While it’s true there has been a drop in tooth decay rates in America, there is no clear indication fluoride is responsible for that improvement. Besides, fluoride supporters conveniently forget the obvious: There has also been a significant drop in tooth decay for people who do not drink fluoridated water. So the reduction in tooth decay is not due to fluoride in the water, but is instead due to a better diet and improved dental hygiene.

In fact, according to a 2001 study released by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), it was found that by age 12, kids who live in fluoridated communities averaged only 1.4 fewer cavities than those in non-fluoridated communities. And, “even in fluoridated cities, severe tooth decay remains rampant among the poor,” according to Time, because 85 percent of dentists reject treating poor patients under Medicaid.

Even in Western Europe, where tooth decay levels have dropped as sharply as in this country, 17 of 21 countries — a whopping 80 percent — have stopped water fluoridation or refused to start water fluoridation.

The CDC recently found 32 percent of American children now have some level of dental fluorosis (mottling and pitting of the teeth), a direct result of fluoride accumulating in their bodies. If that’s not bad enough, I did a little digging and found that this statistic may understate the problem.

The more fluoride added to the water, the higher the level of dental fluorosis found. In fact, in 1993, the National Research Council of America reported 84 percent of the population in areas where fluoride in the water exceeded 3.7 parts per million (ppm) had dental fluorosis!

The Environmental Working Group petitioned the National Institutes of Health to list fluoride in tap water as a carcinogen. Time magazine reports that their petition cites “decades of peer-reviewed studies on fluoride’s ability to mutate DNA and its known deposition on the ends of growing bones.”

A 1991 study by the U.S. Public Health Service found a strong link between fluoride exposure and bone cancer in boys. They found there was a 79 percent increase in osteosarcoma in fluoridated communities and a 4 percent decrease in non-fluoridated communities.

Fluoride is closely linked to osteosarcoma (bone cancer) for these reasons: 50 percent of ingested fluoride is deposited in your bones; fluoride is a mitogen that stimulates bone growth; and fluoride is known to cause human cells to mutate.

If you need more proof as to how hazardous fluoride is, the FDA forces toothpaste manufacturers to print the following warning label on every tube of toothpaste that includes fluoride: “If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a poison-control center right away.”

So, do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the dangers of fluoride.

Dr. Anthony Viscusi, Chiropractor, Wellington