News Feature | October 19, 2018

Fluoride Bans On The Rise

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

loose tooth reg new

An increasing number of towns are banning the addition of fluoride to water, a common practice across the country.

“In the past five years, 74 cities have voted to remove fluoride from their drinking water, despite thousands of studies showing it prevents cavities,” NBC News reported.

“These anti-fluoride believers are active online but also at the polls: In the past five years, 74 cities have voted to remove fluoride from their drinking water, according to the American Dental Association. This year, there have been 13 votes around the country on fluoridation, and at least three more cities have fluoride referendums on the ballot in November: proposed bans in Brooksville, Florida, and Houston, Missouri, and a vote on bringing fluoridated water back in Springfield, Ohio,” the report continued.

The origin of this trend is a movement of people who are working to ban fluoride. They are a “small but vocal minority,” the report stated. They claim that adding fluoride lowers IQs and is linked to a variety of conditions, such as acne and Alzheimer’s, among other problems.

The article compares fluoride activism to outreach around another divisive issue: vaccination.

“The frets over fluoride are reminiscent of the unfounded fear that vaccines cause autism: disproved by science, yet steadfast nonetheless. The persistence of fluoride conspiracy theories — which emerged in the 1950s with claims that fluoridation was a communist plot to dumb down Americans — is alarming public health officials, including the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, who say fluoride is a safe, inexpensive way to boost children’s oral health,” the report stated.

Florida, Texas, and New Jersey voters have taken up the fluoride issue.

“In June, the Texas Republican Party opposed water fluoridation in its 2018 platform. In New Jersey, where more than 80 percent of residents do not have fluoridated water, the town of East Brunswick stopped fluoridating three years ago after Mayor David Stahl called it ‘mass medication of the public,’ a familiar refrain on anti-fluoridation forums. In Brooksville, Florida, a city of 8,000 about an hour north of Tampa, Mayor Betty Erhard has said for years that fluoride is a toxin and a waste of taxpayer money. Next month, at her urging, Brooksville will vote on removing it,” the report stated.

Dentists and doctors are overwhelmingly of one mind about fluoride: They endorse it.

“More than 70 years of scientific research has consistently shown that an optimal level of fluoride in community water is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay by at least 25 percent in both children and adults. Simply by drinking water, Americans can benefit from fluoride's cavity protection whether they are at home, work or school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century,” according to the American Dental Association.

“After seven decades of evidence, every major health organization agrees: optimally fluoridated water protects your teeth without posing risks to your health,” the American Academy of Pediatrics added.

Image credit: "First wiggly tooth, and very concerned," david d © 2016, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/