Rethink fluoride in Florida’s water
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 21:01
Adding fluoride to tap water has been a contentious public health practice in the United States since it began in the 1940s. Although it is hailed by governments, dentists and physicians as an affordable treatment against cavities, health activists argue water fluoridation is doing more harm than good.
Back in October, Pinellas County commissioners sided against groups like the American Dental Association by voting to remove fluoride added to the county's water supply. Despite derision from some medical professionals, the decision should ultimately be praised for giving power back to the people, allowing individuals the choice concerning their medical treatment.
After all, fluoride is the only medication that is forced on the public via tap water. This presents the problem of dosing control because fluoride exposure is related to how much water a person ingests. Infants and children are particularly at risk for getting too much – about 40 percent of adolescents in the U.S. have dental fluorosis, white spots that appear on the teeth from too much fluoride, according to USA Today.
The possible health risks associated with fluoride should be enough for public officials across Florida to reconsider adding it to everyone's daily intake. A study published just this month in Nuclear Medicine Communications reveals a scary link between vascular fluoride uptake and cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.
Scientific American reported in 2008 that "recent studies suggest that over-consumption of fluoride can raise the risks of disorders affecting teeth, bones, the brain and the thyroid gland." Overexposure to fluoride, the most consumed drug in the U.S., may even affect intelligence among children, according to a peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
A Harvard School of Dental Health study also indicated "that boys exposed to fluoride between the ages of 5 and 10 will suffer an increased rate of osteosarcoma," a type of dangerous bone cancer, according to The Guardian.
These risks simply aren't worth the benefit fluoride has in preventing cavities, and medicating the public with a substance that is proven hazardous is not a proper solution to provide affordable dental healthcare.
Products like toothpaste and mouthwash can easily be used as topical forms of fluoride treatment for healthy teeth. Since these treatments are not ingested, they do not pose the systemic risks that may come from ingesting too much fluoride.
Besides, for the second year in a row, Florida earned an "F" for children's dental care from the Pew Center on the States, according to The Gainseville Sun. This is despite widespread water fluoridation in our state.
It wasn't until 2004 that Orange County joined the water-fluoridation bandwagon. It is not too late to consider ditching the practice and replacing it with better access to dental care for Floridians.