drinking water fluoridation and childrens health page


Community Fluoridation scores Big Victory in Escondido Fluoridation case.

Fluoride and Trust

A Letter to the Editor of the Times Standard

Reject fear, get facts before deciding on fluoridation

Robert Parks Article for Fluoride

Fluoride and Trust

Who do you trust when a controversy arises, and there are competing opinions? Do you place your trust in the Internet, the source of random, anything-goes information? Or, do you trust people that you know have the depth of knowledge and range of experience that makes them capable of providing you with a balanced, thoughtful assessment of the issue?

Having had the opportunity to look a both sides of the fluoridation dispute, I choose to trust Ann Lindsey, Humboldt County Public Health Officer and long time Arcata family physician: Rebecca Stauffer Director of the HSU Student Health Center; Howard Hunt, Arcata orthodontist; Garrison Tucker with over 50 years of service in children’s dentistry in Arcata; and his son, Brad Tucker an Arcata pediatric dentist. Based on their personal and professional experience, all attest to the benefits of fluoridation in preventing dental disease in our community.

I also trust my own experience. I’ve been privileged to raise four healthy children who grew up drinking fluoridated water. All are adults now, and none of the have experienced tooth decay.

Contrast their healthy advantages to that of a child who may not have access to fluoridated water or dentistry. Tooth decay is a disease. It’s permanent; and, if left untreated, it’s disfiguring. Is it fair or ethical to take away dental health from low-income children-children whose parents aren’t capable of providing them with regular dental care? The answer is clear: It’s not.

If anyone should be insensible enough to believe that Arcata is a community of only well to do and pampered children, I’d like to remind them that over half the children attending the Arcata Elementary School District are eligible to participate in the free/ reduced priced meals program. That’s higher than both the county and the state averages. Just as they need our assistance in receiving adequate nutrition, they also need our assistance in maintaining their dental health. They deserve to continue to benefit from a fluoridated water program that has been in place in Arcata for 5o years.

Of course, I could log on to the Internet and find 152,000 Web sites listed on Google that have to do with fluoridation; and, if I had the time, I could read all of them. But what would I find? Some of them would say fluoride is bad; some would say it’s good. Who should I trust? I trust the health professionals in my community, and I trust my own experience. As an Arcata resident, I support the continued fluoridation of our city’s water. I believe fluoridation to be safe, effective, and one of the best approaches to helping to promote the good health of children and adults in our community.

Garry T. Eagles, PhD
Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools

A Letter to the Editor of the Times Standard:

I applaud your recent editorial "Time to take a bite out of dental disease." There is, indeed, a shortage of dentists in Humboldt County. With Denti-Cal (Medicaid) reimbursement rates in many cases below the cost of providing care there is an even more acute shortage of dentists who can participate in that program.

I was disappointed, however, that you did not mention the role of community water fluoridation as a major line of defense against dental caries. This is particularly disappointing since there is now a movement to remove this important public health benefit (the Centers for Disease Control calls community water fluoridation one of the 10 greatest public health advances of the 20th Century) from the City of Arcata.

Arcata has had community water fluoridation for almost 50 years. Community water fluoridation has been found to be both safe and highly effective at decreasing the rate of dental caries; every dollar spent for fluoridation results in a savings of $8-10 in treatment costs. Removing this important public health benefit would put economically disadvantaged children at even more risk of getting dental disease.

It is unfortunate that the proponents of "pure water" are resorting to disingenuous and misleading arguments in order to create fear in the minds of the public. For example, the ballot measure in Arcata calls for outlawing the addition of any substance to drinking water that has not been "specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration" despite the fact that the FDA has no authority to regulate potable water - that is a function of the Environmental Protection Agency. I would urge anyone who wants more information to visit the Quackwatch (a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, and fallacies) website dealing with this issue at http://www.quackwatch.org/03HealthPromotion/fluoride.html.

Steven E. Schonfeld, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Periodontics and Dental Implants
(Formerly Professor of Microbiology/Immunology and Periodontics at the
University of Southern California)


Reject fear, get facts before deciding on fluoridation
My Word by Ann Lindsay , M.D.
I am concerned about mercury in fish and other environmental health issues and did not want to be caught on the "wrong side" of the water fluoridation issue. Therefore, last fall I met for a total of six hours with the core anti-fluoride organizers to hear them out. I read cover to cover three books on which they based their position: "Fluoride Deception," Christopher Bryson; "Fluoride, the Aging Factor," John Yiamouyiannis; and "Fluoride," Groves. I also viewed a video featuring Paul Connett and Phyllis Mullinix. I discovered that these sources opposing fluoridation frequently quote statements that are out of date, taken out of context, misrepresent legitimate scientific research or draw scientifically invalid conclusions from evidence cited.

The most frequent mistake was assuming that 1 part per million fluoride in optimally fluoridated water presents the same risk as large amounts, like 100 parts per million, of fluoride given to rats or experienced by workers in unsafe industrial situations. The language in these books was inflammatory. Describing fluoride as an "industrial waste gleaned from scrubbing smokestacks" is quite a different image from that evoked by the term "co-product" of a process that comes from reacting a mined mineral with sulfuric acid. I patiently pointed out the scientific errors in the anti-fluoride source material, but the anti-fluoride organizers did not seem interested in the facts. One of them stated she didn't trust any research conducted by a dentist. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water! We were supposed to have one more meeting to go over scientific evidence in support of the safety and effectiveness of community water fluoridation in preventing dental decay in children and adults, but that meeting was canceled several times, and never happened. I felt like I was being told, "Don't confuse us with the facts!"

In 1999, the Sacramento Board of Supervisors asked Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet to report on the risks and benefits of water fluoridation. She assembled a scientific panel to review all the literature submitted to the board from both sides of the debate. The panel first established standards for evaluating the 132 references submitted, then proceeded to review information. The articles contained data spanning 70 years since the dental benefits of naturally occurring fluoride in community water were first reported. The review panel set criteria of legitimacy including: publication in an acceptable peer-reviewed journal, pertinence to community water fluoridation and validity and quality of scientific research. Some articles considered safety and effectiveness of the same type of fluoride added to Arcata water. The preponderance of evidence submitted supported fluoridation of community water as a safe and effective method of preventing dental caries in the population. The panel found no verifiable association shown between optimal fluoridation of community water and conditions such as hip fractures, bone cancer, severe dental fluorosis or severe bone fluorosis, Alzheimer's disease or lead poisoning. Sacramento County went on to enact water fluoridation, opting to advance common good in the absence of identifiable harm.

In communities without optimal fluoride in the water, doctors and dentists prescribe fluoride supplements for parents to give to young children daily. This alternative is far less likely to get fluoride to all the children who would benefit. A conscientious parent has the job of administering about 3,000 doses of fluoride, making 100 trips to a pharmacy to fill prescriptions and taking the child to 10 medical or dental appointments. The cost is considerable. Considering that water fluoridation is harmless at levels necessary for benefits, it seems wise to fluoridate the water and protect the population in a non-discriminatory manner.

I urge Arcata voters to seek out the facts when deciding whether community water fluoridation is safe, effective and worth continuing. Amidst concerns that some policy makers may distort science to advance policies, it is critical that citizens are informed by accurate scientific analysis. Voters can then act on facts, not fear or faith alone. One source of information is the community's medical and dental professionals. As far as reading material goes, it is unfortunate that no one has written a bestseller, "Water Fluoridation: Safe, Effective and Equitable." The title doesn't grab you the way "Fluoride Deception" does. I would be happy to share the Sacramento report on the fluoride literature, which can be found at www.sacdhhs.com/CMS/download/pdfs/PUB/PUB_Fluoridation.pdf I also recommend the locally produced website, www.fluorideinfo.org and a rather entertaining website, www.quackwatch.org

Dr. Ann Lindsay is the Public Health Officer for Humboldt County.
This article appeared in and is quoted with permission from the Times Standard


“The fact is that I started out as somewhat skeptical and cautious about fluoridation. But then I became a firm believer as proof was assembled by scientists that fluoridation of a water supply will reduce the production of tooth cavities (our most prevalent disease) by 60%, and, just as important, that no disease or defect is caused by this procedure. What particularly allayed my early doubts about adding a chemical to public water supplies was learning that fluoride has always occurred naturally in water supplies.” Dr. Benjamin Spock
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