The fluoridation of drinking water has been hailed by some as one of the greatest public health advances in modern times. Color MOST very, very skeptical. We are not fans of this practice, and there are a host of reasons why. We recently shared our view on the following discussion board through LinkedIn:
The gentleman who began this discussion is trying to determine if fluoridation should be considered for a community in Australia. There is only one reason to fluoridate drinking water: to reduce dental caries (cavities) in children. There are no known health benefits other than this.
Now for the counter-arguments — and there are many. Some may best be categorized as “conspiracy theories,” and MOST cannot comment with any authority on these. However, we boast four decades of experience in water quality and treatment, so we can comment with authority on some aspects of fluoridation.
Our biggest problem with this practice is that it is fatally flawed. For fluoride to do the job it is alleged to do, the child — remember, even the proponents acknowledge that this only helps children, up to about age 12 — has to ingest a proper mass of fluoride each day. The actual mass ingested is based on two factors: the concentration of the fluoride in the drinking water, and the amount of tap water consumed. Unfortunately, a drinking water system can only control one of these factors.
The regulations for water fluoridation are quite detailed with respect to the concentration of fluoride, and completely silent on the amount. From a water quality regulator’s standpoint, this makes perfect sense: control that which is controllable. But from a public health standpoint, why is there zero discussion regarding the amount consumed?
We think it’s because everyone knows it is folly to expect a child to rigorously monitor his/her tap water ingestion each day.
Consider this scenario. “Little Johnny” is getting ready for bed. His Mother realizes that Johnny is a quart low for the day. Will Mom demand that Johnny drink a quart of water just before bedtime, to reduce the potential for cavities?
MOST is guessing that Mom knows that the probability of a wet bed in the morning is going to be greatly increased. Instead, Mom will tell Johnny to brush his teeth before going to bed. And that will be far better for Johnny’s dental health than the fluoride ingestion. Moms are pretty smart that way.
MOST is categorically against any attempt to deliver a nutrient or medicine to the entire general public through the drinking water supply. And the reason is simple: the dosage cannot possibly be controlled! We should end this futile experiment with water fluoridation now.