Arguments on Water Fluoridation

This is a highly contested debate right now in a number of Councils. It visited the Seanad chamber this week and I welcomed the comments on the matter.

Below are some facts I received on the debate from both sides

Water Fluoridation – Arguments in Favour

In common with every other recognised national dental association across the world, the Irish Dental Association strongly supports the policy of fluoridation in Ireland as an essential element of oral health policy. The benefits of fluoridation as regards the oral health of the population, and most particularly those in deprived circumstances, are extremely well documented.

I attach for your information a brief policy statement which succinctly summarises the position of the Irish Dental Association in regard to fluoridation.

You should be aware that the policy of fluoridation is supported by all dental schools in Ireland, all the representative and training bodies for dentists, nurses and hygienists and indeed all of the officially recognised representative, training and education bodies for dentistry in Ireland. A new statement in the name of the deans of Ireland’s three dental schools and the Irish Dental Association is also attached.

Across the world, dental leaders, representing over one million dentists in 134 countries have reaffirmed their strong support for fluoridation as essential in promoting oral health. The assembly of the annual meeting of the FDI, world dental federation, reaffirmed its strong support for fluoridation at its latest meeting which concluded in New Delhi, India in the last few weeks. The full statement is attached.

The FDI statement recognises that more than 370 million people in over 27 countries receive the benefits of water fluoridation.

In recognition of the importance of promoting oral health through water fluoridation, the FDI World Dental Federation states that:
— Over seventy years of research and recent systematic reviews have shown that water fluoridation is an effective public health measure for the prevention of dental decay in children and adults.
— Water fluoridation is particularly appropriate for populations demonstrating moderate to high risk of dental decay.
— Water fluoridation confers positive health savings and contributes to reducing disparities in the rates of dental decay in communities.
— At the fluoride concentrations recommended for the prevention of dental decay, scientific research and reviews show that human general health is not adversely affected.
Regrettably, an amount of scaremongering has been engaged in by opponents of fluoridation claiming an association between fluoridation and adverse medical outcomes, none of which have been supported by credible, peer-reviewed research.

Alarmist Claims
I attach for your information two major reviews commissioned by the public health authorities in the UK and New Zealand both of which conclusively endorse fluoridation as a safe and effective policy, essential to better oral health, and which also dismiss many of the alarmist claims made by opponents of fluoridation who suggest links with medical conditions or diseases without any credible basis.

You will also find attached a document prepared by the National Cancer Control Programme on fluoridation and the effects on health as well as an important study which shows the clear health benefits arising from fluoridation in the Republic of Ireland in contrast to Northern Ireland where fluoridation has not been introduced. Finally, we have attached a document prepared by the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health in response to queries raised by members of the Environment and Engineering Strategic Policy Committee, Dublin City Council in 2013.

Fluoridation has been described as one of the greatest public health success stories of the century

Water Fluoridation – Counter Arguments

Although I accept that water fluoridation has been deemed safe and beneficial in optimal measures by the majority of expert here and internationally – I believe the issue of the fluoridation of water should be a matter of choice for the individual.

Fluoridation is currently banned in Sweden and Holland. More recently, Israel’s Health Minister announced he is set to ban water fluoridation in his country.

According to a review of the scientific literature from a medical laboratory in the UK :

· Fluoridation has not been demonstrated to be an essential element for us in fact it has been shown to be highly toxic to us

· It is being used as a drug in the water supply and there is no adequate margin of safety to protect the brain from harm and other known health effects

· Fluoridation of water is actually medicating us without regard to body weight, consumption of water, medical conditions, ongoing medical monitoring as with medical drugs.

Regarding the current situation in Sweden – water fluoridation was prohibited by the parliament in 1971, who concluded there were alternative and better ways of reducing tooth decay than water fluoridation such as improving food and oral hygiene habits instead of fluoridating tap water. The Swedish parliament also found that many people found fluoridation to infringe upon personal liberty/freedom of choice by forcing them to be medicated, and that the long-term effects of fluoridation were insufficiently acknowledged.

In Switzerland, two fluoridation programs had operated in tandem since 1962: water fluoridation in the City of Basel, and salt fluoridation in the rest of Switzerland (around 83% of domestic salt sold had fluoride added). However it became increasingly difficult to keep the two programs separate. As a result some of the population of Basel were assumed to use both fluoridated salt and fluoridated water. In order to correct the situation, in April 2003 the State Parliament agreed to cease water fluoridation and officially expand salt fluoridation to Basel.

In 2002 Belgian banned the sale of fluoride supplements – which contain the same amount of fluoride as a litre of Irish tap water. Their Health Minister also called for a European-wide ban.

Meanwhile, in the US.A – the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services together with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are proposing to reduce the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water to the lowest end of the current range, 0.7 milligrams per liter of water from the previous recommended maximum of 1.2 . This measure was taken following findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study which determined 40.7% of adolescents aged 12–15 had dental fluorosis in areas with water fluoridation. This effectively terminates municipal water fluoridation in areas where fluoride levels from mineral deposits and industrial pollution exceed the new recommendation.

Closer to home in Northern Ireland – 25 out of 26 councils rejected its introduction leaving the Republic of Ireland as one of only two countries worldwide with a compulsory national fluoridation programme.

Although there is a considerable amount of conflicting evidence of the effects of water fluoridation, I believe there are alternative and better ways of reducing tooth decay than water fluoridation such as improving food and oral hygiene habits.
I believe, it boils down to freedom of choice which the Irish people do not currently have the luxury of.

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