Ever since communities started fluoridating their water, there have been people that are adamantly opposed to water fluoridation.
As you can see in the 1950’s era flyer to the right, some people even alleged that water fluoridation was some kind of communist plot to overthrow the American government.
Some of the arguments of anti-fluoridationists are very extreme and therefore seem like they are not based in truth. I think that when people hear outlandish arguments alleging fluoride to be a giant conspiracy, they don’t take the anti-fluoridationists very seriously. Because of this, I think that the many sound arguments against water fluoridation that do exist are never fully considered by the general population.
In the following article, I’ve attempted to consolidate ten of the best arguments against water fluoridation. If you want to take a look at the opposing viewpoint, you can check out yesterday’s article, Top 10 Reasons to Support Water Fluoridation.
Top 10 Reasons to Oppose Water Fluoridation
1 – Water Fluoridation Is Associated with Dental Fluorosis
Dental fluorosis is a condition resulting from a child ingesting too much fluoride while the permanent teeth are developing. In its mildest form, faint white specks can be seen on the teeth. In more severe forms, the teeth can appear brown and mottled.
Dental fluorosis has been found to be more common in children that consume fluoridated water. One source for this claim is this article published in the Journal of the American Dental Association in October of 2010.
Want to know more? Read this article about dental fluorosis.
2 – Water Fluoridation is a One-Size-Fits-All Approach
Water fluoridation assumes that every person needs the same amount of fluoride. It also assumes that everyone drinks about one liter of water per day. While those statements may sound great in theory, the truth is that people are varied and have different needs.
Not everybody needs the same amount of fluoride. People with poor oral hygiene may benefit from more fluoride while those with perfect oral hygiene who brush with fluoride toothpaste and floss could easily have a clean bill of oral health without water fluoridation.
The ideal situation would be to have people talk with their dentist about how much fluoride they actually need. That way the dentist can assist the parents by providing an accurate assessment of their child’s fluoride needs.
3 – Water Fluoridation Prescribes a Drug to Everyone
Fluoride is technically considered a drug, since it does alter the way the body works. When fluoride is added to the drinking water, everyone gets prescribed a drug regardless of their individual situation. A doctor would never prescribe a drug without taking into account the medical history of a patient, so it is interesting that communities allow everyone to “be prescribed” fluoride by putting it in their water source.
4 – There Is No Informed Consent with Water Fluoridation
If people are going to be drinking fluoridated water, it seems logical that they should be aware of any risks and benefits. A main problem with water fluoridation is that many people don’t really know the main benefits and risks. The main benefit of fluoride is in reducing tooth decay. The main risk is getting dental fluorosis.
To illustrate an example of this, in the cover story of the October 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, it recommended to not use fluoridated water to mix baby formula. It states:
“If liquid concentrate or powdered infant formula is the primary source of nutrition, it can be mixed with water that is fluoride-free or contains low levels of fluoride to reduce the risk of fluorosis. These include water labeled as purified, demineralized, deionized or distilled, as well as reverse-osmosis filtered water. Many stores sell these types of drinking water for less than $1 per gallon.”
I highly doubt that very many parents even know that they aren’t supposed to be mixing infant formula with fluoridated water. Even if they did, for some families it may be an excessive financial burden to continuously purchase reverse-osmosis filtered water for their baby. Is it fair that a baby can’t even drink from the public water supply without endangering the appearance of their permanent teeth?
In light of this situation, the anti-fluoridation website Fluoride Action Network has started a petition to require water utility companies to add the following statement to all of their customers’ bills:
“Your public water supply is fluoridated. Fluoridated water should not be used or added to infant formula, foods, or drinks intended for babies 12 months of age or younger in order to avoid dental fluorosis.”
5 – Water Fluoridation is Mass Medication Without Choice
Many people believe that health matters are a personal choice and that they should not be forced to drink water that has been medicated with fluoride.
6 – The Water Supply Should Be Used for Delivering Water, Not Medicine
What if the gas company tried to sneak an additive into the gas supply that was touted to improve your health, but it also had some drawbacks? Do you think that the utility companies should focus on delivering quality utilities or adding health-promoting chemicals to the utilities you consume? Many would argue that the same logic applies to water fluoridation and that people should be supplied with water and water alone.
7 – Water Fluoridation Takes Away Personal Responsibility
Water fluoridation is one example of the government trying to do things for the people. It is a person’s responsibility to learn about the pros and cons of fluoride and then decide if they want to utilize fluoride in their oral health routine. By allowing the government to make this choice for us, personal responsibility is diminished.
8 – Tooth Decay is Decreasing In Countries Without Water Fluoridation
The main reason that fluoride is added to water is to reduce cavities. A recent article in the British Medical Journal contains a thought provoking graph that illustrates the downward trend in cavities over the past 40 years in 12 year-old children in Europe regardless of the fluoridation status of their country.
9 – Nobody Keeps Track of How Much Fluoride You Swallow
Let’s say you’re an avid jogger and you drink a LOT of water everyday. Water fluoridation is based on the assumption that you’ll only drink around 1 liter of water per day. What are you supposed to do if you’ve already had too much fluoride for the day and you’re thirsty?
Would you know if you’ve been ingesting too much fluoride?
On the other side of the spectrum, consider that the bottled beverage industry has grown explosively since water fluoridation began in 1945. In 1945, most people drank tap water or beverages that were made from tap water. With bottled beverages (such as water) so popular now, many people are not getting fluoride in the intended dose.
Learn how much fluoride is in bottled water.
Has fluoridating water become irrelevant?
10 – Where do you Draw the Line?
Ted Ferrioli, an Oregon state senator, has said that putting chemicals in the public’s drinking water takes away people’s choice and sets a bad precedent. He states, “If I can fluoridate your water, where do I draw the line?”
I remember attending a dental public health lecture during my first year of dental school where the lecturer extolled the benefits of water fluoridation. After the class, one of my friends went up and talked to her. He asked her if she thought it would be a good idea to put other vitamins and minerals in the public water supply. The lecturer replied that this was a topic that they have been researching.
Anti-Water Fluoridation Resources
If you want to learn more about the arguments against fluoridation, here are some of the sites dedicated to eliminating fluoride from the public water supply:
I don’t necessarily agree with everything contained in the sites in the four links above, but I thought it was important to include them to provide a balanced view of the water fluoridation issue.
What do You Think?
Are there any good anti-fluoridation arguments that I missed? What are your views on water fluoridation?
I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!