The debate of whether or not fluoride should be added to towns water supplies is moving quickly and ever-changing. Americans are becoming more aware of risk factors that may lie in water fluoridation. It has become such a hot button topic that many city councils are beginning to give their residents a choice when it comes to receiving fluoridated drinking water. Additionally, many bills are coming up in local political chambers all across the country.
Dallas Takes The Lead
The City of Dallas is currently considering whether or not to renew a $1.8 million contract that provides their drinking water with fluoride for the next three years. If they chose to pass on fluoridation, they will become the largest US city to do so.
So, Why Not?
Granted, many Americans are educated that fluoride is even in the drinking supply of many cities. Even fewer know the pros or the cons that are involved in the decision making process.
To some it makes sense to add fluoride to a public water supply. Fluoride is a controlled addition that can help reduce tooth decay and help to prevent cavities. Some studies have shown up to 40% reduction in cavities in communities that have a fluoridated water supply versus those communities who do not receive fluoride.
The counter argument is based on the same lack of education that most Americans have on the topic. Some city representatives have argues that the addition of fluoride to the public water supply violates the individual’s right to informed consent to medical or human treatment. To put it simply, the resident should have a choice to receive fluoridated water.
Additionally, the argument for cities to remove fluoride from the water supply also notes that there is no restriction on use of this water and there’s no way to keep it from specific residents. For example, once the fluoride is in the water supply there is no way to control the dose that a resident receives. It goes to everyone regardless of age, weight, health, need, or nutrition. The right amount of fluoride for one resident might be way too much or way too little for another resident. In the current system, it’s a “one size fits all” distribution.
Finally, the argument of whether fluoride is even helpful has been brought into question. Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies fluoride as an “unapproved drug”. Many believe that the statistics behind cavity prevention and fewer cases of tooth decay are actually skewed. For example, Japan has had nearly zero exposure to fluoride for over 40 years and they have very few cases of tooth decay.
Unfortunately for both sides of the argument, there are many factors to consider and a full scale scientific study has never taken place to provide concrete results. The first step you can take is to find out about your own water supply. Does your town add fluoride to the water? Once you know that, you can research for yourself and head to the polls to elect public officials that share your mindset!