To Fluoridate or Not to Fluoridate?

That is the question.

Today's headline over at the Oregonian discusses one of the many issues the Oregon Legislature will tackle this session (starting with a hearing today): whether to require that our water be fluoridated. One side suggests that for the sake of the salmon and safe drinking water we should not. Meanwhile the Oregon Dental association is behind the idea, pitching how much money it will save Oregonians on future dental treatments.

Is such an idea a good idea in such an "independent-minded" place like Oregon? Discuss.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    No, we should not add fluoride. My kids grew up without it and have ZERO cavities. The whole notion of medicating the entire water supply is absurd.

    Don't miss The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson. From the NRDC review:

    "In The Fluoride Deception, journalist Christopher Bryson asserts that fluoride's use in dentistry is rooted in industrial and national security concerns. Bryson contends that Americans drink fluoridated water not because it was universally accepted as a cure for bad teeth, but rather because government and industry leaders wanted a benign use for fluoride waste. (Approximately 90 percent of the fluoride that goes into our drinking water is a waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry.) He weaves together industry and government documents, many of which have never been made publicly available, to reveal a web of coercion and deceit meant to ensure that the use of fluoride would continue unfettered, despite the threat to public health."

    "The book is filled with examples of collusion among government officials, industry bigwigs, and the dentistry establishment to suppress information on fluoride's toxic effects while bolstering scientific support for its use as a cavity cure-all."

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    Our pediatrician prescribed flouride to feed our children until they were old enough to use flouride toothpaste. Every dentist I have ever spoken with says that flouride prevents cavities. While this is a topic that naturally generates conspiracy theories, is there any real question that flouride is net beneficial?

  • NYSCOF (unverified)
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    If legislators would just look at the dental literature, they would see that scientists are "screaming" to dentists (who apparently are not reading their journals) that today's children are fluoride overdosed - even when they live in non-fluoridated communities.

    Despite this glut of fluoride, cavity crises are occuring in most of our large fluoridated cities and are up in 2-4 year olds nationwide, after six decades of fluoridation now reaching about 2/3 of americans on public water supplies and vitually 100% of Americans via the food and beverage supply made with fluoridated water and carrying fluoride containing pesticide residues.

    New York City children studied have higher cavity rates than the national average despite being fluoridated since 1965. Yet two of New York State's most populous counties, Suffolk and Nassau (Long Island) are not fluoridated and have better dental health than New York City and New York State as a whole, which is about 3/4 fluoridated.

    Save your money. Don't fluoridate. Use those funds to actually treat poor children who can't find dentists willing or able to treat them.

  • (Show?)

    I wonder how many of those kids with higher cavity rates had Coke in their baby bottles and continue to consume large quantities of pop and candy? The problem isn't lack of fluoride.

  • Jason Evans (unverified)
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    No. I have perfect teeth, no cavities and even have my wisdom teeth still. Spend the money on educating kids in pre- and elementary school how to brush their teeth instead...schools need anything they can get right now.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    I wonder how much of Portland's dental health can be ascribed to the fact many of us are immigrants to Oregon who did grow up drinking fluoridated water. Ironically, what many people see as evidence against fluoridation may be the opposite.

    I've seen no evidence that fluoride, in reasonable quantities, is harmful to people. However, it does appear to reduce dental decay, in a way that does not rely on people being extremely conscientious. So, my inclination is to say yes, fluoridate the water.

    I have not seen anything on this thread that changes my mind. The New York City example is so obviously flawed, I wonder why the person bothered to post it. Income corelates with better information about health care and visits to dentists and doctors. That would explain why children in middle to elite non-fluoridated counties might have fewer cavities than those in NYC.

    I think the same thing about childhood immunizations. Scare stories of 'Immunization caused my child's autism, not a genetic mishap,' notwithstanding,the evidence against it is just not persuasive.

    I wonder why people latch onto beliefs such as harm being caused by practices that are apparently benign. I want go so far as to call them conspiracy theories, but something is awry with the thinking, in my opinion.

  • (Show?)

    So Mac doesn't see evidence that fluoride is harmful to people? Here's what approximately 1500 scientists, lawyers, engineers and other professional employees at EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. have to say:

    "[O]ur opposition to drinking water fluoridation has grown, based on the scientific literature documenting the increasingly out-of-control exposures to fluoride, the lack of benefit to dental health from ingestion of fluoride and the hazards to human health from such ingestion. These hazards include acute toxic hazard, such as to people with impaired kidney function, as well as chronic toxic hazards of gene mutations, cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, bone pathology and dental fluorosis."

    And if fluoride is such a great thing, why have most European countries banned it?

    UPDATE: On April 9, 2003, the City Parliament of Basel, Switzerland voted 73 to 23 to stop Basel's 41 year water fluoridation program. Basel was the only city in Switzerland to fluoridate its water, and the only city in continental western Europe, outside of a few areas in Spain. http://www.fluoridealert.org/govt-statements.htm

    click for more

  • cab (unverified)
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    Why again is it in the dentists best interests for the public to have good teeth? These guys make a living off problems. The fact is Floride is a an industrial waste product. The solution to pollution is dilutions.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    Think, people. Penicillin is a "waste product." So are stem cells. Shall we toss them, too?

    The anti-fluoride bandwagon is akin to the anti-immunization bandwagon I mentioned above, and, the anti-circumsion bandwagon that came up on another thread. Someone(s) somewhere with too much time on his/their hands comes up with ideas like this and promotes them. The fact there is little or no evidence to support what they are saying makes no difference to the promoters.

    No evidence for fluoride, in appropriate quantities, being harmful to humans has been presented. Instead, we have people trying to pass off a few incidents of over-fluoridation as if it is normal. The quotation from Suzanne refers to over-fluoridization. Furthermore, it is the opinion of some people who work for EPA. I'm sure there are others who disagree. Furthermore, she is citing a biased source. Advocacy groups advocate.

    I reviewed this topic when it came up a couple years ago, including the research available. Looking at the facts in the way the most favorable to the anti-fluoride movement, the most that can be said is that further study is advisable.

  • MC (unverified)
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    Mac Diva's comment about New York City misses the point. The dental community promotes fluoridation as absolutely imperative for low-income communities. The idea being that the high rates of tooth decay found in poor areas can be mostly prevented by fluoridation.

    That of course is the idea.

    In reality, if you look at the experience of poor urban areas throughout this country - in New York City, in Boston, in Cincinnati, etc- you will find that they are all experiencing massive dental crises DESPITE being fluoridated for 20 to 50 years.

    Not a very good badge of honor for fluoridation.

    Finally, I think it is useful to keep in mind that the vast majority of western Europe rejected water fluoridation. They didn't reject fluoridation based on "conspiracy theories", but instead on the belief that adding a medicine to everyone's water supply - whether they need it or not, or want it or not - is neither necessary or ethical.

    Yet, despite rejecting fluoridation, western Europe has experienced the same decline in tooth decay as experienced here in the U.S. See: http://www.fluoridealert.org/who-dmft.htm

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    More propaganda from the very same biased advocacy source, MC. Bring me an objective, preferably scientific, source that supports your position and I will be duly impressed.

    What a thinking person could learn from the allegations about NYC's fluoridized water supply versus non-fluoridization in upper middle-class suburbs is again, a lesson in class and relative well-being. Those suburban families will score higher on any health indicia because they have more information and access to health care, including dental insurance. Their advantages apparently surpass the good fluoridization does in for the significantly poorer population in NYC. Based on the research available, it is likely that the poor would have worst dentai health without fluoridization than they do with it. (I am treating these allegations as true, though they might not be.)

    And, frankly, I find it offensive that the low-income are being used by the middle and upper-class Henny Pennies in the anti-fluoridization movement. They want to end fluoridization because of their own irrational fears, not because they care a whit about the poor.

  • the prof (unverified)
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    What unbelievably silly comments.

    Gee, I never slid on ice and had an accident. Clearly, we are wasting resources when we clean ice off streets. Gosh, I've never been thrown through a car window. Safety belts are clearly a government plot! Besides, don't auto manufacturers want unsafe cars so they can sell more of them?

    Cavities are up. Flouride is in the water. Clearly, scientific evidence showing that flouride helps prevent cavities is flawed. Ever heard of spurious correlation (sugar in the diet is also way up!)?

    I guess we'll just continue to pay for extra flouride tablets in the schools and flouride rinse for my kids.

  • JS (unverified)
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    Mac Diva,

    You've repeatedly decried the examples offered by those who disagree with you as "biased" and "propoganda". Yet you haven't offered a single piece of evidence suggesting that adding flouride to the drinking water is beneficial.

    I'm undecided on this issue, but as YOU said:

    "Bring me an objective, preferably scientific, source that supports your position and I will be duly impressed."

  • Duke Shepard (unverified)
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    This is what we're spending time on in Oregon? I would think it a joke if it weren't so tragically consistent for the misguided activists in this state. I couldn't believe the headline in the Oregonian.
    This is not exactly a top tier issue given all of the needs of our state, yet already some narrowly focused group of well meaning zealots is off and running to marginally reduce the potential for cavities. Sadly, this is one more example of the left's inability to focus. Every "problem" is treated equally; as if a marginal decrease in the occurrence of cavities ranks with increasing math and science literacy on the list of children’s needs. The right wing goes after the new deal, our side tries to get government to take on responsibilty for cavities. I'm baffled as to why we lose.
    What's next, legislation to reduce with foot fungus? Enough!
    Here’s an idea for the flouridians - maybe exercise a little parental control and dial back on the cheesy poofs, snacky cakes and other sugary, non-nutritional garbage that kids subsist on. There - cavities reduced. Then can we focus on something more meaningful, like the education system, poverty, or health care? Or if we really want to worry about childhood health, how about obesity?(Which takes us back to the same solution I’ve spelled about one sentence back - don’t feed your kids crap).

  • LynnS (unverified)
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    I'm against the nanny state in general. If I want flouride I can get it. Keep it out of my water.

  • JJ Ark (unverified)
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    so...let me get this straight (aimed at the folks who proposed this idea):

    You want me to pay extra for something I do not want, and do not need?

    I don't get a choice in the matter? I can't turn it off, or cut the dosage in 1/2?

    You want me to do this cuz you don't think I have enough chemicals to protect my teeth?

    Isn't flouride an industrial waste product?

    Oh, and then the scientists are NOT 100% in agreement over the benefits of this industrial waste product?

    Why are we even discussing this?

    I tell you what...if the problem is that your kids are rotting their teeth out, buy them a toothbrush, some old fashioned toothpaste without a bunch of sparkly gunk in it, and a roll of dental floss and have them brushy brushy. It ain't rocket science, and it is far cheaper than adding flouride in everyone's water.

    Or is it that you just think that poor people are too dumb, too lazy, or both to figure out how to brush their teeth?

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    In my experience, posting mainstream research has little impact when dealing with advocates. (Notice I did not use the z-word, though Duke may be on to something.) The information will just be ignored in favor of more propaganda. Currently, there is a thread gun advocates took over. Claims that Americans need more guns are being greeted enthusiastically. Meanwhile, a point I made about the Second Amendment foreseeing government entities as the owners of dangerous weapons and arsenals is being ignored. Good information being overwhelmed by bad is a hazard of the Internet. Part of the reason is the ease of posting something -- anything. Then, search engines are used to bookmark advocacy topics so their supporters can descend on any discussion, like our visit from the neo-Confederates last week.

    Still, I will direct readers to information in regard to fluoridization.

    Here is the official policy of the American Dental Association. Follow the links to see the science behind their position.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weigh in. This is a summary statement, but there are numerous references for those who want to follow it up. More here.

    The National Cancer Institute debunks the myth that there is a direct link between fluoridization and cancer.

    Here is an article about fluoridization in Oregon. Willamette Week is, predictably, anti-fluoridization.

    Currently 57 percent of Oregon children are said to have tooth decay. From the Register Guard, which covered the topic today.

  • JJ Ark (unverified)
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    Ok...I am not a flouride activist. I am CHEAP. I dont' wanna pay for more chemicals in the system. Why SHOULD I? I don't want more stuff in my water. Why SHOULD I?

    Look...tack a 1$ per month fee on my water bill. Buy the poor folks toothpaste, toothbrushes, and dental floss. THEY prevent tooth decay. Proven. 100% of everyone agrees that a toothbrush works wonders. No arguement there.

    I would be happy to pay for 1$ month to give kids good teeth, but I don't want to have to pay for chemical that I don't want in my body. Its MY body, and its poor kid's bodies, and the state doesn't have a right to take over control of that.

    all we want is clean drinking water, flush toilets and some sprinklers in the summer. is that so difficult to provide?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Even if flouride itself is not harmful at the dose received by water users, the impurities included in phosphate production waste likely are, or, at least, there is little evidence that they are safe. Read the linked Earth Island Institute article.

    There are many instances of bothersome waste products finding "useful" ends. We are dumping heavy metal bearing sewage sludge on agricultural land. Beware of convenient solutions that relieve someone of the responsibility for his trash.

  • (Show?)

    So Mac thinks that the anti-fluoride sources cited are biased? Try this one. Here's the bio from Dr. Hardy Limeback, Head of Preventive Dentistry at the University of Toronto. He's a is a whole lot smarter than me. A former proponent of fluoride, he has now reversed his position. Although he does not object to flouride in toothpaste, he opposes fluoridation of water because the risks outweigh the benefits. He cites many reasons, including new studies showing that the benefit of fluoride is from topical application not from ingestion, and the issue of mass medication without consent.

    http://www.fluoridealert.org/limeback.htm

    Education: 1975 - BSc Biochemistry, University of Toronto 1979 - PhD Collagen Biochemistry, University of Toronto 1983 - DDS University of Toronto 1985 - Medical Research Council of Canada Scholar Courses: Undergraduate: 2nd, 3rd & 4th yr. Preventive Dentistry (coordinator/lecturer), Clinic instructor (1st & 3rd yr.) Graduate Program - Etiology and Prevention of Dental Caries (coordinator/lecturer) Qualifying Program - Preventive Dentistry (coordinator/lecturer) External Presentations - various lectures to practicing dentists, hygienists and the public.

    Research Interests:
    Basic sciences: tooth development, enamel proteins, dentine, bone, fluoride, collagen, non-collagenous proteins -clinical sciences: caries, risk assessment, geriatric dentistry, preventive dentistry dental fluorosis, enamel defects, rickets, osteoporosis.

    Recent Publications:
    Brothwell DJ, Limeback H. Fluorosis risk in grade 2 students residing in a rural area with widely varying natural fluoride.Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1999 Apr;27(2):130-6.

    Limeback H. A re-examination of the pre-eruptive and post-eruptive mechanism of the anti-caries effects of fluoride: is there any anti-caries benefit from swallowing fluoride? Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1999 Feb;27(1):62-71. Review.

    Limeback H, Ismail A, Banting D, DenBesten P, Featherstone J, Riordan PJ. Canadian Consensus Conference on the appropriate use of fluoride supplements for the prevention of dental caries in children. J Can Dent Assoc. 1998 Oct;64(9):636-9. Review.

    Awards and Honours:
    Member, Fellow of the Pierre Fauchard Academy Academic/Hospital Appointments: -Head of the Preventive Dentistry, U of Toronto (1994- ) -Chief Dentist, Metropolitan Toronto Homes for the Aged (1988-94) -Member, Canadian Dental Assoc. Products Recognition Committee (1987-99) -Chair, Faculty Member Development Committee, the Association of Canadian Dental Faculties (1991-96) -Board Member, National Institute of Nutrition (1994-96) -Graduate Co-ordinator, Faculty of Dentistry (1994-98)

  • the prof (unverified)
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    This whole conversation just reminds me that I've moved to the wacky coast. Bizarre.

    Duke, you write : This is not exactly a top tier issue given all of the needs of our state, yet already some narrowly focused group of well meaning zealots is off and running to marginally reduce the potential for cavities. Sadly, this is one more example of the left's inability to focus.
    The Oregon Dental Association aren't exactly leftist zealots.

    To those comparing this to the nanny state, do you also oppose water treatment plants? Chlorination? Ok, how about pasteurized milk?

    Now, I know this is not the same as flouride for some, because the gov't is adding something, not killing buggies. However, the "nanny state" is all around us. You'd better be specific about which nanny you like and dislike.

  • LynnS (unverified)
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    Actually, I DO oppose universal enforced pasteurization of milk. I would prefer to get it raw. I know the risks, and I know the benefits; for me the benefits outweigh the risks and I would prefer being able to make the decision myself. Others would prefer to buy pasteurized, and they should be able to easily make that choice too. Right now, without a great deal of effort, pasteurized milk is the only choice.

    That's my point: I prefer to make these decisions myself. I can remove chlorine fairly easily from municipal water with a simple filter--or just letting a pot sit out overnight. But removing flouride is more difficult.

    And I don't understand why to be for flouride is to be on the left and to be against it is to be on the right; somehow one's progressive credentials should be revoked because one doesn't want one's water polluted? I kinda thought we were the anti-pollution people.

  • Joshua (unverified)
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    I'm not terribly interested in the fluoridation debate as a whole, and might even lean against it, but a number of comments here which decry the "nanny-state" putting chemicals in the water should be aware that it is the thanks to the "nanny-state" that we have publically own and delivered water in the first place. If the system of public ownership is so bad, why shouldn't we all have private wells or be forced to carry water back to our homes from public water sources? Then we'd be free of the grasping hands of government and their pernicious fluoride. The entire Water Bureau is just another example of the government deciding that you need water delivered to your home, right? How dare they. They've also decided that I need traversible roads, public parks and public schools. Just more signs of the creeping totalitarianism of the "nanny-state" I guess.

  • cab (unverified)
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    The assumption is that the right is for this because an "authority" says its ok and the left against because they don't trust "the Authority” I’m sure the Prof. also thought Cigarettes were fine when the tobacco companies were the authority and Asbestos was a great insulator when the makers were still Authorities or for that matter Enron was a solid company when they were the Authority. For those who can't think for themselves the Authority of the moment think for them. Its pretty simple, Why do we need to pay to put something in our water that many don't want? Americans can get all the fluoride they need with toothpaste. Water should be as pure as possible. Spinach is good for you, green water would be nice touch for the region don't you think Prof. :)

  • JS (unverified)
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    Thanks for the links Mac Diva. To me, they look rock-solid. I haven't had time to read the anti-flouride links. I don't think further arguement about the science will do much good on this thread (not that this won't stop anyone). However, there are other interesting questions (to me, at least) that have been raised here. And one issue, raised in the original post, which hasn't been addressed at all.

    OPB did a story this morning which quoted Brent Foster from Willamette Riverkeepers as saying:

    "Pretty much every fish biologist I talked to that was familiar at all with the issue of fluoride and its effect on salmon all had one conclusion and that was that fluoride is very toxic from a salmon perspective."

    What do those in the know think about the effect on the environment of pumping flouride into our water systems?

  • LynnS (unverified)
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    What it comes down to is this: We are the people of choice. We are not the people of coercion. Delivering clean water to the people is a public good. Deciding for the people that they must drink flouride with that clean water is coercion.

  • (Show?)

    JS -- here's an archived WW article on the fish issue --

    Paul Engelking sadly explains why he dropped one of his favorite pastimes. "The fish have enough problems," he says, "without me trying to put them on a hook."

    Engelking, a chemistry professor at the University of Oregon, can walk you down the familiar list: destruction of habitat by loggers, toxic runoff from cities, fertilizers and pesticides from farms.

    And now this: fluoride.

    click

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    Suzanne, I give you a big E for effort. But, again, your citations are flawed by being from advocates who offer no proof for what they are saying, just opinion.

    JS, I read about the fluoride and fish issue when I studied the topic in depth a couple years ago. Fluoride may harm fish, but it hasn't been scientifically established. What we do know is that some pesticides, dams and hydroelectric plants are the main reasons for disease and dessimination of fish. A few people on the thread have commented on grasping at straws in these bandwagon kind of attacks on established science. I think blaming the problems of fish on fluoride does that when there are much more obvious grounds. Remember that Oregon cities reject fluoride. Yet, problems with fish, most notably salmon, abound.

    The coercion arguments made by the anti-fluoride advocates are just childish. I found myself envisioning a Birkenstock-shoed, bald with ponytail, hemp attired grown man holding his breath until he turned blue because Portland fluoridized its water. As others have said, we're coerced all the time. The question is whether the basis for the coercion is reasonable or not. We need additional information before deciding that adding fluoride to water is bad coercion.

    I believe the water in Portland, and perhaps the rest of Oregon, will not be fluoridized. That is the status quo and now we have this very vocal, though poorly informed, advocacy movement. It is easier for legislators and officials to just leave things as they are.

  • pdinxs (unverified)
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    The issue is not at all whether flouridation is good or not good; whether the risks outweigh the benefits, etc. We could go on and on about this research or that article, but it has absolutely nothing to do with content. The issue is about choice.

    I don't like abortion. I don't believe I could ever have one. HOWEVER, I will in no way push legislation that deems it to be illegal.

    The commen denominator that everyone can utilize is water without flouridation. For those who want flouride, they can add it. For those who don't want it, they do not have to have it.

    Done.

  • JJ Ark (unverified)
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    The coercion arguments made by the anti-fluoride advocates are just childish. I found myself envisioning a Birkenstock-shoed, bald with ponytail, hemp attired grown man holding his breath until he turned blue because Portland fluoridized its water.

    Nice Stereotype, MacDiva. But wrongo. I wear cowboy boots, cotton, wool, and leather jackets. Sometimes I wear a Utilikilt.I don't have hair long enough to make a pony tail, and the only hemp I own is an old rope. And, I am not going to hold my breath, I am going to use to to ask some questions of you: Refraining from stereotypes, what I am wondering is why YOU are so dang hot to deny people a choice? Why is it that you believe that people are too dumb or lazy to protect their own teeth?

    Oh, and just so you know: I brush 3 times a day with flouride toothpaste, and at night before I go to sleep, I even use a flouride rinse. I am a good liberal and take care of my teeth. BY CHOICE. I am hardly an anti-fouride nutcase.

  • (Show?)

    I'm against forced fluoridization of water. The science is sketchy, the environmental concerns haven't even been addressed, and it is clearly an economic burden not only to consumers at the lowest socio-economic levels who wish to opt out, but also to our government in cost of implementation, labor and raw material at a time when Governor K has deservedly put us on the "no frills" package for services.

    Where I grew up, in Silverton, City Water was fluoridized. It didn't stop me from getting cavities, and the lack of it in other systems has not stopped me from getting any more or less cavities.

    So, no thanks - I'll go to the War on Tooth Decay armed as I am, with a dentist I've had for almost 20 years, my Oral-B 8850, and a few refills of Mentadent.

  • the prof (unverified)
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    LynnS,

    Precisely, my point is that casting this as a right/left issue is completely misguided. Far as I can tell, the divisions on this issue are a) medical (those who think the science is in favor against those who think it is not), b) suspicion of government (those who don't want the govt making these sorts of decisions).

    What makes it interesting from a dispassionate standpoint is that the b) group overlaps to some degree with liberals in the western states.

    To me this is a public health issue, and it is a cost/benefit issue, pure and simple. So are most public health issues.

    You do have a choice about flouride: buy bottled water. Guess what? I don't oppose irradiating food for the same reason: the dangers from toxins and bacteria in food far outweighs unproven and hysteric claims about the effects of irradiating food. And if you don't want to buy that food, then the non-irradiated stuff is available.

    John, please, one last time. This is an issue for biostatistics. Your individual experience is indicative of precisely nothing.

    cab: your description of my position is far too simplistic. The "left" has their own authoritie that they trust.

    All the research that I am familiar with flouride is analogous to evolution: it is overwhelmingly in one direction. Folks may cite one expert here or there as much as they wish, but the "intelligent design" folks take the same tack.

    If you were to poll 1000 scientists and you told me that 995 said that flouride prevented cavities, improved public health, and was not a danger, I would not oppose adding it to water.

  • JJ Ark (unverified)
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    You do have a choice about flouride:

    Buy Flouride!

    That way, the people who don't want it in their water don't ahve to have it in their water. And those that want it can have it!

    I am not sure why we are considering polluting something that is supposed to be clean. For EVERYONE.

    And we are forgetting one thing: the cost. It will cost money to do this. Money that could go to schools, libraries, books, elections, public health initiatives that are undisputed. Clean water, safer food.

    but no. for some reason this money HAS GOT to be spent on something not everyone wants, not everyone needs, and not everyone agrees would be good for ya. Oh, and you can't refuse it, unless you decide to buy ALL your water elsewhere.

    All science aside, this is just silliness.

  • LynnS (unverified)
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    Saying that I should buy bottled water (for my shower? wow) is ridiculous when people who want flouride can buy flouridated toothpaste at no more cost than non-flouride toothpaste (probably for less). Your analogy to irradiated food is in error; it would be analogous if all food were irradiated except food I grew in my back yard or bought at specialty stores at a much higher price than non-irradiated food. Bottled water is way more expensive than water from the tap. This would be penalizing me twice over to add something to the water supply that is already easily available--indeed, hard to avoid if one brushes one's teeth at all. And if one is not brushing one's teeth, what's the point of flouride in the water? One's teeth will fall out of one's head regardless.

    My hesitation about flouride is two-fold: one, I am not convinced by the science, which has been largely influenced by big business; and two, I am somewhat suspicious of government. I'm not holed up on a cliff somewhere with a shotgun and a cache of dehydrated food, I'm holed up in my house in SE PDX with a nice bit of salmon in the oven and a couple of little kids watching cartoons.

    I don't hate government, far from it, I just don't think it's necessary to mess with every little detail of people's lives and force them to do things "for their own good" that are already hard to avoid. Try buying toothpaste without flouride some time; it takes a little effort. This is just not necessary, science aside.

    Fighting coercion is not just for balding Birkie-wearing aging boys with ponytails. I'm not a boy and I'm not balding. (I do wear Birkies in the summer and I do have a rather long ponytail--to my waist.) Holding my breath until I turn blue? Nope, fighting like hell until this country's blue. If it's throwing a tantrum to fight coercion, hey, I'm gonna tantrum, whether it's this or the draft.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    I think most people who read what I said I reached the conclusion about my personal opinion I intended, but let me restate it for the guy who misstated it. Based on mainstream science, I believe fluoridation is probably a good idea. However, I do not expect water in Portland or the rest of Oregon to be fluoridated. I believe the 'cocercion' and 'let me have my own way with a matter that impacts millions of people' arguments are childish. The focus should on what is good for most people, with particular emphasis on children. I do not have the deep emotional investment in the fluoridation controversy the members of the advocacy movement do.

  • (Show?)

    John, please, one last time. This is an issue for biostatistics. Your individual experience is indicative of precisely nothing.

    Wow, Prof, that's 1 for 3 in correct sentences. 33% fails most classes I know of, therefore your throwaway comment at my expense gets an 'F'. Work smarter, not harder!

    Until I had to clear up this misconception, I posted exactly once on this topic - which would have been about all I had to say on an issue that, to me, ranks right up there with what Oregon's state mushroom should be. So "one last time" doesn't apply, even if you ask nicely.

    But I'm sure it is an issue for biostatistics, of which I was offering one sample, quantity one. Which I posted.

    Sorry if this exasperated you.

  • cab (unverified)
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    Whats good for most people? Who decides? You. Simply put if 51% want it case closed. Give me a break. Please explain to me why most of Europe ban this crap from there water supply and yet here we are trying to get it into every last drop of water. There is enough questions world wide about over flourination to continue to let us have a choice if we want to experiment on our bodies or not.

    If enough money was poored into a marketing program I bet those in the industrial waste field could convince a majority over time to accept and consume just about any waste product that would other wise cost them money to store.

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    This is the weirdest debate. I thought we already fought this battle. Oh that's right, it has been taken care of everywhere but Oregon.

    I didn't know that our water wasn't flouridated until it popped up in session and media. I think it's truly silly that it's not. Or maybe it's just another stupid idiosyncracy that stubborn Oregonians cling to in self-destructive defense of their "originiality" and "individuality" and "we're soo different" mentality.

    Rather like iodine in your salt, or vitamin D in your milk: flouride is something you need, and putting it in drinking water makes it easy for you to get it. And then your teeth look nicer and last longer. Everybody in all the other states seems to be ok with it. What on earth is all the fuss about?

  • (Show?)

    Anne: You are missing the point. People get fluoride from toothpaste. That, I'll agree, can be good (as long as they aren't little kids who swallow it). It does not need to be ingested and why should it be in light of questions about the adverse effects of ingestion. Go read the warning on your toothpaste. And it isn't fluoride that makes teeth look better and last longer. Good dental care does that. There are lots of places with fluoride in the water that still have high rates of tooth decay and, the adverse, in countries in Europe where they have stopped the use of fluoride, the rates of decay did not go up. Doesn't that tell you something?

  • LynnS (unverified)
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    I will say this about this discussion--I'm married to JJ Ark, and we now have quite a stockpile of private jokes about flouride and water. So thanks, guys! You've contributed to marital happiness. :)

  • cab (unverified)
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    And in the old days Smoking made you look sexy and sophisticated. And Red meat put hair on you chest. And Enron was the model of Corporate America. I guess the point is that todays authority is tomorrows joke. Why take the risk when there are legit questions. Questions that have started a trend in other civilized nations to ban Flouride in water supplies. Why muck around with the most important thing to all life just because a few experts in one country say this industrial waste product will make your teeth shiny. I'm not drinking water to make my teeth shiny, I'm drinking it to survive.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    Lord, you just can't leave the word 'waste' alone, can you Cab? As I said before, many substances that are waste are also very beneficial. Penicillin. Fertilizer. Stem cells. Even parts of cadavers. Saying that something is 'waste' tells us next to nothing about it.

    Your remark about "civilized nations" is both racist and ignorant. The assumption that people in Europe or of European derivation always know best is a pillar of white supremacist thinking. And, ironically, people in Second and Third World countries often have better dental health than those in the First World becaue of their diets. Sheez! The more some 'liberals' say, the more clear it becomes that some very backward thinking goes on behind the sincere veneer.

  • JJ Ark (unverified)
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    Mac Diva:

    Why is that you assume that the term "civilized nations" does not include countries outside of Europe? worldwide consensus is that S. Africa is a highly civilized nation with an incredible history and an constitution that comes close to rivalling our own. Likewise China, India, and a good chunks of South America are quite civilized. While some places are still rather bararous, like, say, Myanmar, or pockets of New York City, most places really fit the term civilized. Of course, most of those countries are more concerned with providing their people with adequate clean running water than with adding chemicals to the water, but drought a dearth of clean water doesn't make them less civilized.

    Do yourself (and us) a favor and stop trying to read racism into every other post. The vast people here are trying to better their state, the country and the world. We aren't here to beat others down based upon their country of origin, or the color of their skin.

    And aren't YOU the one insisting that you know what is best for me? Are you actually telling me that pure water is bad for me? That I shouldn't be drinking simple water? that I am somehow inferior for not wanting stuff (notice I didn't use the word "waste") in my water?

    I am still trying to figure out just why we are talking about adding stuff to our clean water, at a cost, when some folks in the world can't even get clean water.

  • engineer (unverified)
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    "Engelking, a chemistry professor at the University of Oregon, can walk you down the familiar list: destruction of habitat by loggers, toxic runoff from cities, fertilizers and pesticides from farms. "

    Destruction of habitat by loggers? sounds like the same old tired rhetoric. Can you please give a specific example? Logging is essentially non existant on federal land and regulated by the state on private land. Cant these people come up with an original argument?

  • cab (unverified)
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    Mac, Penicillin. Fertilizer. Stem cells, none of these are being forced on the population. Penicillin is wonderful, but do need to take it daily? Everything in moderation. Including racist rhetoric. There is absolutely no need to put this stuff in our water supply.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    I think the flouride issue serves as a handy divider between liberals and, well, the rest of us who despise Shrub and Lars but don't buy into just anything pushed by a authoritative group, like ADA, who is supposed to have the public interest in mind.

    You know, DDT is an effective mosquito control. With West Nile Fever a growing problem, maybe we should commence aerial spraying immediately. Of course, there are those who post here who will think this is a great idea.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    Tom, if and when fluoride is proven to have the detrimental effects of DDT, then I will vehemently oppose putting it in water supplies. But, currently, there is no proof that it causes the various harms hysterical anti-fluoride advocates claim. There was a news story yesterday that said grapefruit juice is harmful. Another cause for you, eh?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Mac,

    There is much evidence that flouride, and especially its accompanying impurities are harmful. Whether this is proof enough for you is your choice. I ascribe to the precautionary principle: Before a technology is allowed into the environment, especially into humans, It should be judged safe. The greater the exposure and the greater the potential harm, the higher the standards should be. Dumping something into drinking water is quite intrusive from my viewpoint. I don't see the potential benefits outweighing the risks. DDT is a similar case. what is the "proof" that DDT is more dangerous than disease carrying mosquitos? I, for one, don't care. I do not want to be doused with DDT as I was as a child, for the sake of "public health", I will add.

  • the prof (unverified)
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    Suzanne, Anne: You are missing the point. People get fluoride from toothpaste. That, I'll agree, can be good (as long as they aren't little kids who swallow it). It does not need to be ingested and why should it be in light of questions about the adverse effects of ingestion. Go read the warning on your toothpaste. And it isn't fluoride that makes teeth look better and last longer. Good dental care does that.

    The warnings on toothpaste are not relevant, and you know it. The flouride rates in toothpaste are far higher than in water. There are many, many things that are benficial in small quantities and dangerous in higher quantities. Too much Vitamin D is dangerous -- should we remove it from milk?

    There are lots of places with fluoride in the water that still have high rates of tooth decay and, the adverse, in countries in Europe where they have stopped the use of fluoride, the rates of decay did not go up. Doesn't that tell you something?

    Are you claiming no relationship between flouride and tooth decay? That is the clear implication of what you post.

    This continues the misleading use of statistics that permeates comments in this thread. The statistical relationship between flouride and tooth decay is not even denied by the anti-flouride studies cited here.

    Europeans drink far less sugar soda and eat fewer sugary snack foods than Americans--that is the reason for their lower rates of tooth decay.

    Those areas with flouride in the water and tooth decay would very likely have even higher rates without the flouride.

    If you believe the cost/benefit of flouride is not worth it, or if the dangers of flouride outweigh the benefits, OK. If you think this is the "nanny" government, OK again. We can agree to disagree.

    But many of the comments on this issue seem purposely misleading.

    Re: John, I apologize for offending the grammar police.

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    the prof:

    Purposely misleading? Definately not. I was challenging the assumption made by Anne and others that we need fluoride in our water if we are to have good teeth. This is not my research; I'm not a scientist. For every comment I've made on this topic, I have relied on experts in the field. Have you read anything by Dr. Paul Connett? Like you, he's a professor (Ph.D. Chemistry, Dartmouth, B.S. in Natural Sciences (honors)University of Cambridge). He is strongly opposed to fluoridation for many reasons.

    And there's Dr. Hardy Limeback. "New research shows that swallowed fluoride carries little, if any, benefit," says Canada's leading fluoride authority, dentist Hardy Limeback, head of the Department of Preventive Dentistry, University of Toronto, and past-president of the Canadian Association for Dental Research. "Fluoride's enamel strengthening effects are primarily topical, or when fluoride touches the outside of the tooth," says Limeback. "Fluoride's adverse effects occur upon ingestion. Fluoride gets into every cell of the body and can especially damage the bones and teeth."

    And what about Dr. Arvid Carlsson, the 2000 winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine. He opposed fluoridation of water, too.

    Bringing attention to the work of these experts is not misleading; it's responsible.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    Suzanne, I would be interestd in reading the research studies your experts base their opinions on. That is, studies showing that ingested fluoride, in normal doses, damages the bones and the teeth. But, I have a feeling there are no such studies. Please post the information, if it exists.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    I still await Suzanne's response, but recalled Dr. Limeback as one of the 'stars' of the anti-fluoride movement. I read about him when doing research on the topic a couple years ago. What struck me as notable was his use of the topic to become a celebrity in the movement and that he has done next to no research himself. Though he makes some of the more outrageous claims -- fluoride causing most ills known to modern man, one is led to believe -- he relies on animal studies, small group research and speculation for support. Limeback has a traveling act that goes to places where adding fluoride to water supplies is on the agenda and tries to convince the locals not to do it. They recently lost a round in Palm Beach, Florida. The Sun-Sentinel has an opinion. This article from another Florida city details how the advocacy movement goes about trying to stymy adoption of fluoridization, including traveling 'experts.'

  • David (unverified)
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    Hello. I sit on the Bioethics Committee of ourlocal hospital, and on the board of a nonprofit research organization, where doctors and researchers spend a great deal of time making sure that they always have the "informed consent" of patients or research subjects, BEFORE any medication is given to a patient or subject.

    From a bioethical perspective, even if you personally fervently belive that flouride is beneficial, it is still deeply unethical to suggest that whole poplulations of people should be forced to ingest controversial medication without their consent.

    Medicine simply should not be administered to people without their informed consent. The role of government and the water utilities is to deliver pure, clean, safe water to people. It is not ethically supportable for dentists to push their preferred medicine on others through a compulsory legislative scheme that

    Flouride is an optional medication that people can take by choice. It should not be a compulsory mediation forced on people without their informed consent. Pushing for compulsory flouridation of people's public drinking water is profoundly unethical. - David

  • Mike (unverified)
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    Make no mistake about it. There would not be a public water fluoridation program if there was not a industial waste disposal problem. Minnisota, which has a state mandatory water fluoridation policy, ran out of fluorde for a short time during the late 1980's. The reason being farming slowed in large areas of the U.S. due to droughts. The need for The supply of fluoride dwindled from the scrubber smoke stacks in the fertilizer industry in Florida. Wake up! It's industrial waste; fluoride contaminated with lead, arsenic and cadmium. There are powerful money concerns that will insist on having their way.

  • me (unverified)
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    hi dont floride our water. i'm a student who has no cavities and doesn't want to drink some thing that i already get from other sources. Especially when that product is in things like poison and causes discolorment of the teeth. I've had braces and i wouldn't appreciate that.

  • jj ark (unverified)
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    Look here, kid:

    They are gonna do it, and you have no say in the matter. Get used to it. If you protest this, you will be called a nut. Or worse.

    Its time you grew up a little bit, and didn't throw a fit over something that everyone should want. After all, we know what is best for you. And flouride is just one of those things.

    (ps: if you think i am kidding read my posts above!)

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