(BeWellBuzz) Government health agencies claim water fluoridation is a grand success. Some of the latest studies claim water fluoridation may have done more harm than good. Between the two versions, which one is true? And why have the EPA and HHS recommended that fluoride levels in drinking water should be reduced? Read on to find out.
What water fluoridation is, when it started, and why it is undertaken
Water fluoridation is the addition of fluoride, in controlled quantities, to a community’s drinking water supply.
In the U.S., water fluoridation was introduced on a big scale in the late 1940s. Today, nearly 70% of the country’s population drinks water that contains fluoride, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC for short).
It was done because of the following reasons:
- Fluoride was regarded as essential for strengthening tooth enamel, preventing tooth decay, and maintaining good dental health
- It was believed that to get the dental benefits fluoride provides, it was necessary to ingest it during the tooth development years
- Fluoridation of drinking water was an inexpensive and safe way of delivering fluoride to the general public
National Academy of Sciences reports shows that the government got it all wrong
More than 66 years after its adoption, a 2006 report of the National Academy of Sciences stated that water fluoridation was not such a brilliant idea. This controversial report stated, in clear terms, that there was substantial evidence linking overexposure of fluoride to dental problems in children.
One by one, all early beliefs are found to be wrong
When water fluoridation was first introduced in the U.S., the Government and experts said a lot about its virtues. As it turns out, all these heralded virtues of water fluoridation were plain misconceptions, if not outright lies.
We present five such claims that the latest studies have proven wrong-
- To get the benefits of fluoride, children need to ingest it during their formative years instead of being given this substance topically
The truth: Fluoride is effective when taken topically, not when it is ingested.
- Tooth decay rates slumped sharply in the late 20th century because a large segment of the total population drank fluoridated water
The truth: Tooth decay rates fell sharply in the last few decades of the last century in all Western countries, irrespective of whether they had added fluoride to the water or not.
- Tooth decay rate will increase after water fluoridation is stopped
The truth: Tooth decay rates are declining even after water fluoridation is being stopped in some places.
- Water fluoridation is an effective way to keep dental problems at bay in poor urban areas
The truth: Widespread tooth decay has occurred in poor urban areas even when the water was fluoridated. In short, water fluoridation is ineffective in preventing tooth decay.
- Within countries that opted for water fluoridation, the communities that drank fluoridated water recorded fewer instances of tooth decay than communities that were not provided with fluoridated water.
The truth: No tangible difference in tooth decay rate was recorded between the unfluoridated and fluoridated communities.
A new risk assessment study convinces the Government to rethink its decision
With more and more experts claiming that water fluoridation is harmful, a new risk assessment study was ordered. The study revealed that nearly 40% of adolescents had some sort of tooth problem due to the excessive ingestion of fluoride.
Over the years, other studies have also brought the harmful effects of excessive ingestion of fluoride to light. For instance, a few independent studies revealed that excess fluoride can increase the risk of weak bones, which, in turn, can lead to bone fractures and bone abnormalities. Certain other studies have linked excessive ingestion of fluoride to hormone disruption, neurotoxicity, and cancer.
Jan 2011 -EPA and HHS recommends lower fluoride concentration in public water supply
The Environment Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services has revealed that they support the reduction of fluoride content in drinking water.
At present, the acceptable range of fluoride in public water supply is 0.7 – 1.2 mg per liter of water. Now, EPA and HHS want it to be reduced to 0.7 mg per liter of water. Both bodies cited the growing evidence on the negative effects of overexposure of fluoride as the reason for reviewing their stand on water fluoridation.
Does the decision to decrease water fluoridation teach us something? It actually does. There are two important points that can be derived from all this:
- The Government and experts are not always right. The Government of the 1940s said water fluoridation is healthy, and we believed it. More than 60 years later, the Government agencies agree, even if somewhat implicitly, that they may have been wrong the whole time.
- The average consumer must remain vigilant and do what is best for his/her family, even if it means questioning the wisdom of the Government and experts every now and then.