Entries in Fluoride (2)


Florida County Pulls Fluoride from Water

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- Florida’s Pinellas County commissioners have voted to stop adding fluoride to drinking water -- a public health effort proved to reduce cavities in kids and tooth decay in adults.

The 4-3 vote reneges the fluoridation policy adopted by the County in 2004, which is still touted as a “safe and effective” way to “inhibit, reduce, or even reverse the onset and development of tooth decay” on the County’s website.

Minute amounts of fluoride -- about one part per million -- have been added to American drinking water since 1945.

“We’ve been doing this for over 65 years now, and over time the percentage of the U.S population that gets fluoridated water has climbed steadily,” said Dr. William Bailey, chief dental officer of the U.S. Public Health Service and acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Oral Health.  “It’s the CDC’s recommendation that all communities should enjoy the benefits of water fluoridation.”

Water fluoridation has been shown to reduce a person’s risk of tooth decay by an additional 25 percent over fluoridated toothpaste, Bailey said.  And a lifetime supply costs less than a single filling.

“Community water fluoridation has been recognized by the CDC as one of the top 10 public health interventions of the 20th Century,” said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.  “It has dramatically reduced dental caries across the population.  No longer do most Americans worry about losing their teeth as they get older.”

In 2008, 72.4 percent of the U.S. population -- or 195,545,109 people -- had access to fluoridated water, according to the CDC.  Like cereal fortified with folic acid, milk fortified with vitamin D and salt containing iodine, tap water containing fluoride offers a safe and healthful supplement that folks don’t even have to think about.

“It is a public health benefit that reaches every citizen from children to old age,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  “The risk is essentially nil in a well-managed program.”

But skeptics question the safety of fluoride, linking it to diseases like Alzheimer’s and arthritis, and even a low IQ.

“Fluoride is a toxic substance,” Tea Party activist Tony Caso told the St. Petersburg Times.  “This is all part of an agenda that’s being pushed forth by the so-called globalists in our government and the world government to keep the people stupid so they don’t realize what’s going on.”

The fluoridation debate is not new.  Scientific panels continue to review the research, and have found no evidence for any adverse health effects of fluoridation. Schaffner said he hopes Pinellas County and other communities that have decided to discontinue fluoridation will reconsider based on the scientific evidence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Fluoride Recommendations Buck Decades-Old Dental Health Practices

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- After decades of touting the importance of fluoride, federal officials now say that many Americans may be getting too much of a good thing.

For years, parents have heeded their dentists' warnings and had their children take fluoride supplements or use fluoride toothpaste, in addition to whatever amount of the mineral they received from their tap water.

But Friday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that too much fluoride can cause fluorisis, a hypermineralization of tooth enamel that can result in the staining or pitting of teeth.

"In the vast majority of those affected, it's barely noticeable, even by dentists and oral health professionals," said Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at HHS, "and that's why we believe making this adjustment now will promote health, improve oral health and reduce rates of fluorosis going forward."

HHS has proposed that the current recommendation be set at 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, lowered from the previously recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams.

Fluoride, when taken in moderate amounts, can help prevent cavities. The mineral has been added to toothpaste and to water to improve dental health. But some parts of the country, where the water is already rich in fluoride, have reported cases of fluorosis.

Dr. Griffin Cole, a dentist in Austin, Texas, said he has seen several cases of mild to severe fluorosis in his practice.

While he applauded the feds' proposal, he'd like to see the recommendations go even lower.

"I still don't think it's enough, honestly," he said. "I don't think there should be fluoride in the water at all.

"I think it's a nice move in the right direction," he said.

Cole said he began his dentistry career in the early 1990s, working for a dentist who was openminded about fluoride use and believed that his patients were getting too much.

Cole said he had never once prescribed fluoride supplements to his patients.

He cited studies from the past decade that have linked excess fluoride to not only fluorosis but to higher instances of bone cancer in the test subjects. He also said osteoporosis was an additional concern, since ingested fluoride is known to sit in a person's bones.

"Ingesting fluoride in any form does nothing for your teeth," he said. In cases of "rampant" tooth decay, applying a topical fluoride can improve dental health, but only minimally.

Fluoride, Cole said, molds to the tooth's enamel. So while it will aid in preventing decay, it can also make teeth brittle.

"When you see a case of somebody coming in with bad fluorosis, to restore those teeth you either have to crown them completely or at least do a veneer," he said. "So it's a very costly thing to fix."

Depending on the dentist and the region of the country, restoration could cost between $900 and $1,600 a tooth.

Koh said that in recognition of the multiple sources of fluoride available, HHS and the EPA also recommend that municipalities lower the levels of fluoride in their drinking water.

"The main issue of the very mild dental fluorosis in children is what we're addressing right now," he said, "and what we anticipate is that with this adjustment, we're going to lower that."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio