|| FIB->Fluoridation->The fluoride argument
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the fluoride debate, we want to communicate one essential thing that's important
| One Essential Fact|
Fluoride is a registered poison.
Fluoride is certainly capable of causing
injury, illness and
death and has done so innumerable times
around the globe. The question is, at what dose? Well, opinion is split, but here are some official figures:
- A substance that causes injury, illness, or death, especially by chemical
- Something destructive or fatal.
- Chemistry & Physics A substance that inhibits another
substance or a reaction: a catalyst poison.
|1 milligram per litre||the so-called therapeutic dose in combatting tooth decay, with the assumption that we drink 1 litre of water per day|
|1.5 mg/l||maximum permitted level of fluoride in UK tap water|
|4 mg/l||maximum permitted level of fluoride in US tap water|
|5 mg/l||proposed European limit for bottled water|
|10-20mg daily over 10-25 years||the dose at which bone and skeletal disorders occur|
|2.5-5 grams||lethal dose, exact dosage dependent on body weight|
Please remember, that this is not about criticism of the dental profession. All parents, would
love to have some kind of magic bullet to make tooth decay disappear. Unfortunately, water fluoridation just isn't it.
But if you do talk to a representative of public dental health about the subject, you're likely to get something similar
to the following set of statements:
| The Arguments For|
The problem with the above points is that they seem very credible and very persuasive at first glance. So if those are the loudest
arguments you hear, then you're left with the impression that Andy Burnham, Labour MP for Leigh, is
right when he characterises any opposition as belonging to the
"flat earth society".
However, when you do begin to examine the opposite side of the argument, the most disturbing thing
is the quiet persuasiveness of the science. So let's address all of the points one by one.
- "It is an absolute tragedy in this day and age to have young children queuing up to have rotten teeth removed under
anaesthetic. Studies have shown that water fluoridation is a safe, proven method of reducing tooth decay and putting the smiles
back on our children's faces."
all water contains fluoride, a trace element that is also present in soil, plants, many foods and fresh
and sea water, fluoridation is really nothing but a process of adjusting natural levels to the optimum level
for protection against tooth decay."
- "Water fluoridation has been recognised by the United States' Centre
for Disease Control (CDC) as one of the "Ten Greatest Public Health
Achievements of the Twentieth Century". Water fluoridation benefits
persons of all ages and socio-economic groups. It reduces the inequalities
in caries experience based on socio-economic status, and therefore
provides the greatest benefit to those who can least afford dental care.
Although other products containing fluoride are available, water
fluoridation remains the cheapest, most effective and socially equitable
measure of achieving a community-wide reduction in dental caries."
- "The community dentistry statistics for Bedford show that we have
half the tooth decay of unfluoridated Luton."
- "In a society where people come together for mutual benefit, it is a
question of balancing the personal preferences of some individuals
against the common good, arising from the lower levels of tooth
decay that fluoridation would bring."
relationship between fluoride and tooth decay is complex and
probably not yet fully understood. However, it is known that fluoride interferes
with the process of tooth decay in at least four ways:
- If children ingest sufficient fluoride during the period of enamel
development (up to 7 years of age) the fluoride alters the structure of the
developing enamel making it more resistant to acid attack. This was
originally thought to be the most important mechanism of fluoride; however, with
advances in knowledge this is now understood to be the least important
- When teeth are subjected to alternating demineralisation and
remineralisation as described above, the presence of low levels of fluoride in
the plaque and saliva both encourages remineralisation and ensures that the
enamel crystals that are laid down are of improved quality. In other words,
low levels of fluoride in the mouth gradually improve the strength of the tooth
enamel and its ability to resist acid attack. This important mechanism was first
described in 1966 and means that early patches of decay can be arrested and
damaged enamel will 'heal'. This explains the dramatic improvement in dental
health since the introduction of fluoride into toothpaste formulations in the
- The third way in which fluoride works is by reducing the ability of the
plaque bacteria to produce acid. This is a major factor in the prevention of
tooth decay. It results from the ability of the plaque bacteria to concentrate
the low levels of fluoride at the tooth surface up to a level which inhibits the
function of some enzymes which are essential to the bacteria's ability to
- A fourth, and probably minor effect of fluoride is that, if sufficient
fluoride is ingested during childhood when the teeth are developing, it
affects the depth of the fissures (grooves) on the biting surfaces of the
teeth. In children who grow up in areas where the drinking water is
fluoridated these grooves in the teeth tend to be shallower, thus reducing the
ability of plaque to remain undisturbed.
Dentists say that of the four mechanisms the second - the remineralisation effect - is the most
>> Next: The arguments against