The controversial debate over water fluoridation is not confined to Australia but continues to be on and off the politico/ health agenda in many countries, depending on which side of the debate shouts the loudest.
In Australia, the fluoride debate is still a controversial subject despite the fact that 90% of the population is now receiving fluoridated drinking water. In Queensland, Cairns Regional Council announced in early 2013 that it was to eliminate fluoride from its drinking water. Later in the same year, in August, the state government of New South Wales was prepared to remove the discretion of local councils in deciding what they put in their water supply. Neither of these actions has taken place without some sort of justification offered.
Statements made by such groups as the Australian Fluoride Action movement allege that fluoride harms just about everything in the environment and not just people. It is these sorts of claims, often unsubstantiated by scientific evidence, which may well influence action by councils. To counter their arguments, Dr Michael Foley, an Australian Dental Association spokesperson said that councils are making these moves only by following highly co-ordinated actions by activists. The Australian Dental Association has its own policy in relation to water fluoridation, stating that governments have to keep water fluoridation as part of their Health Policy.
There are some facts about fluoridation that are quite clear according to well documented statistics. One is that where water is fluoridated in Australia there are fewer visits to the Ballarat dentist and tooth decay is less aggressive.
A public statement released by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 2007 stated that there was also no clear association between the incidence of cancer or death and water fluoridation.
Well documented medical research has indicated that there are two important roles of fluoride in the prevention of tooth decay. One is that it stops the development of bacteria in plaque. This inhibits the production of acids that weaken the teeth. The second is the remineralisation of areas where acid damage is already present.
In the role that fluoride plays to save teeth, it does not mean that it is not without toxicity and it has to be used in moderation. Some evidence has shown that people who are exposed to too much fluoride may become affected by dental fluorosis, which involves permanent teeth discolouration. A recent study in 2011 in the USA has found that 2 out of 5 adolescents have dental fluorosis, so the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has lowered the recommended level of fluoride in water supplies across the country.
Over the years, sources representing both sides of the debate have made opposing claims. Some say that fluoride has no serious downsides, while others say the chemical causes all kinds of problems, ranging from allergies to lower IQs to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Some toothpaste companies are marketing fluoride free toothpaste while others are suggesting that water supplies can now be fluoride free as everyone uses fluoridated toothpaste.
No dentist likes to see unnecessary tooth decay and the pain and suffering it brings and many would probably not accept that individuals, particularly young people, are likely to fastidiously brush their teeth with fluoridated toothpaste if fluoride was no longer present in drinking water.
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- 7 May, 2014
- Ryan Davies
- 0 Comments
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