I thumbed through the Oregonian today and saw Mel Rader's opinion piece on why we need fluoride. If you read the article, you'd think anyone against water fluoridation is a monster that hates kids and grandmothers. I think that proponents of water fluoridation need to wake up from this cloud of 1980s research that they've all been sitting on.
Do you know why the target for fluoridating Portland's water is .7ppm? According to the old standards, it should be 1.2ppm. It's because the standards were changed DOWNWARD to .7ppm to help avoid negative effects from excess exposure to fluoride. Mel Rader has us all cry about the sad child with missing teeth, but perform a google images search for fluorosis and you'll see plenty of sad children with damaged teeth from too much fluoride.
Water fluoridation is not 100%. It will not erase 100% of all cavities. You will still have cavities and you will still need to address either the underlying cause or provide access to dental care so the cavities can be treated before they progress to abscessed teeth. Mel Rader has us believe that Portland is this evil place that allows untreated tooth decay to persist. "The tri-county area has 40% more untreated tooth decay in children than in King County, WA (Seattle)," which he says fluoridates water. Hogwash! The Oregon Smile Survey 2007 puts the rate of untreated tooth decay in Portland at 21%. King County's public health website puts its rate at 23%. What? The nonfluoridated city has lower untreated tooth decay! The Oregonian should fact check articles before littering our minds with such garbage.
The proponents of fluoride are stuck in the 1950s when access to fluoridated products was limited. Now these products are ubiquitous and dumping more fluoride into our water is becoming dangerous to teeth and bones. Mel Rader makes the claim that fluoride strengthens teeth. It does nothing of the sort. Adding fluoride to the tooth or bone matrix makes it less susceptible to bacterial decay, but it actually weakens the matrix overall. Is this why Oregon has one of the lowest rates of tooth loss among elderly citizens? Because we have NOT been fluoridating our water.
If you are someone that wants our water to be fluoridated, you are simply being placated. Bringing the levels up to .7ppm will not achieve the level of cavity reduction that your precious research and CDC references would lead you to believe. Most of the research out there is based on higher fluoridation levels so you'd be lucky to get a 10-15% reduction at best. The level of untreated tooth decay is already incredibly low here in Portland so think more in terms of a 1-2% reduction. We already get a lot of fluoride from multiple sources. What we really need is to keep kids off junk food, which will probably help with behavioral and learning disorders as well. And we need to ensure people have access to dental care no matter the case--cavities or no cavities.
The world premiere of the Inconvenient Tooth will be showing tonight at 7:30pm at the Mission Theater.