Larry F. Elliott: Fluoride’s OK
Occasionally, I read a letter to the editor written by someone so misinformed, misguided, and ignorant of scientific facts that it requires a reply. As a practicing orthodontist for over 30 years and a member of many dental professional associations and organizations, including president of four of them, I can write with some authority. Let’s dissect the fluoride writer’s letter, point by point.
1. Fluoride is NOT “a toxic waste by-product of the aluminum fertilizer industry.” Fluoride compounds are naturally occurring components of minerals found in rocks and soil. In the United States, the natural level of fluoride occurring in ground water varies from very low levels to over 13.7 ppm (parts per million). In fact, the initial observations which led to the discovery of the beneficial effects of cavity prevention by fluoride were discovered right here in Colorado Springs in the early 1900s by Dr. Frederick McKay.
2. The American Dental Association, any professional, or any scientist has never “lied” that fluoride whitens teeth. In fact, in high doses, it actually darkens teeth! High levels of fluoride, naturally occurring in water in Colorado and several other states, caused “mottled enamel.” The people who had mottled (darkened) enamel also had teeth highly resistant to tooth decay. At the levels used in community water supplies, it does not cause darkening; it just prevents cavities.
3. Fluoride is NOT “a deadly neurotoxin that induces cancer and neurological complications.” At the levels found in municipal drinking water (0.7 to1.2 ppm), the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence has shown it to be perfectly safe. As of 2002 170 million Americans were drinking fluoridated water; today there are millions more enjoying the benefits.
4. As of 2005, over 405 million people in more than 60 countries were enjoying the benefits of fluoridated water. No European nation (pretty “civilized countries,” if you have been there) has imposed a “ban” on water fluoridation.
All of the above statements are facts, easily verifiable in the scientific literature. A few of the more than 100 national and international organizations that recommend fluoridated water include the following: the American Medical Association (AMA), American Cancer Society, Association of American Medical Colleges, U. S. Department of Defense, U. S. Public Health Service, the Surgeon General of the U. S., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and of course the American Dental Association, of which I am a proud member.
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