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Few debates are as divided as the arguments over whether fluoride should be added to our water supplies to prevent tooth decay. Studies show that in the 3/4 of the country that fluoridate their water, tooth decay is lower. But rural areas where fluoridation doesn't occur also have higher poverty rates, which tend to have higher rates of dental neglect. It's easy to spin the data to justify fluoridating the water. But is it really a good idea?
Without proper regulation, adding fluoride to drinking water supplies can cause physical damage to developing teeth. Fluorosis is a disfigurement of the tooth enamel caused by high concentrations of fluoride given to children ages 3 months to 8 years. For some it is a minor cosmetic blemish. For others it is more pronounced. Fluoride in small doses may be effective in preventing tooth decay, but what are the down sides? Aren't there always down sides?
Part of this debate centers around whether citizens have a right to determine whether their water should be treated. In Portland, OR it seems the city council and the mayor think they know what is best for the people. They don't want to put the decision whether to fluoridate the water to a referendum. They think they know best. They claim they are protecting the poor, who they feel are the ones who suffer from the lack of fluoridation. But couldn't the $5 million dollars they plan to spend, plus almost $600,000 annually for maintenance, be spent of educating everyone on good dental care? How about helping the poor to get dental coverage so they can see a dentist regularly? It just doesn't seem right to impose a mandate to add a known toxin to the water supply.
The only consolation we have is that for those of us who don't want to drink toxins in our water, we can filter most of the bad stuff out. If I had fluoride in my water, I would get a double countertop or undercounter filtering system with a bone char filter and a GAC filter.
Dentists and health advocates may have good intentions, but it's important to put the issue in perspective. Without better research, we really don't know all the possible risks to health that fluoridating our water could pose. Some studies have raised questions about lower IQ's in places where water is fluoridated. This is disconcerting.
I encourage research to make an informed decision about your drinking water.
Read more here: Oregonlive.com
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