A recent Wealthy Dentist survey asked dentists if they are in favor of water fluoridation. The clear majority (85%) supported fluoridation, with many citing it as one of the top 10 public health innovations of the 20th century. The minority (15%) voiced concerns about the possible side effects of fluoride.
Community water supplies are commonly fluoridated in North America and Australia; approximately two thirds of Americans receive fluoridated water, typically at levels of about 1 part per million (ppm). In Canada, about 40% of the population has fluoridated water; in Europe, the number plunges to 10%.
Many dentists had rave reviews for fluoridated water. "Best preventive measure in modern history," exclaimed one general dentist.
To some, fluoride is a matter of public health. "It is the best thing that we as dentists can do for our communities, our patients, and our profession. Prevention is the key to eliminating dental decay, and it is one of the few activities that may do something to address the access problem in this country. How can any dentist be opposed to it?" wondered a Maine orthodontist.
Some pointed to anecdotal evidence in support of fluoride. "I have had a practice in a small city for 25 years that does not have water fluoridation," commented a New Jersey dentist. "This location is surrounded by many towns that are fluoridated. There is a drastically higher level of caries (cavities) in children of the non-fluoridated city than the surrounding towns."
"There is a reason it was rated one of the top 10 health policies of the century," commented a New York orthodontist.
However, some health advocates are not convinced that fluoridation is worth the risks. It’s widely accepted that too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis, a condition characterized by brown stains on teeth. But some point to more serious possibilities, linking fluoride to health problems such as bone cancer, kidney and liver problems, and reduced IQ.
"Fluoride in excess is linked to several health problems," cautioned a Florida prosthodontist.
"It is unnecessary and is downright dangerous to the health of the general population," said a New York dentist.
"In light of research showing a 5-7-fold increase in osteosarcoma in boys exposed to community water fluoridation, it is almost criminal to support fluoridation," said a Florida dentist.
Opponents are also concerned about the social implications of involuntary mass medication. "It is forced medication of questionable benefit, and its source is chemical waste from fertilizer processing plants….eeeeeehh!" exclaimed a Washington dentist.
"There is evidence that fluoride in the water may not be as effective as we have been led to believe," commented another dentist. "I do not like the idea of forcing fluoridated water on people. If you want to add fluoride to people’s diets, there are other ways to accomplish this without adding it to our drinking source."
A number of dentists believe that fluoride is best used topically. "The toxic side effects of ingesting fluoride outweigh the benefits," said one general dentist. "I can accept topical use only. The fluoride they put in your water comes as a by-product of the aluminum industry, and it is so toxic that it can only be put in special landfills or your local water supply… Makes you wonder."
"Just ask dentists: it’s clear that fluoride is the best thing ever—unless, of course, it’s the worst thing ever," said Jim Du Molin, dental consultant and founder of The Wealthy Dentist. "It’s been controversial since it was introduced some 60 years ago, and the debate is still raging. Every week, the news holds a story of one community that’s decided to fluoridate their water, and another story about a community that’s decided to cease water fluoridation. Nonetheless, 85% of dentists still think it’s a good idea."
For more information on this and other Wealthy Dentist surveys, visit www.thewealthydentist.com/surveys.htm.