Fluoride Debate Resurfaces in Canada

by IVL

Studies over the last five years show that Calgary’s decision to stop adding sodium fluoride to the city’s drinking water back in 2011 had a significant negative effect on the dental health of the city residents, particularly children. Now the fluoride debate has switched, and many dentists and health professionals are urging the city council to reintroduce fluoride to the public water system again.

Which side are you on in the fluoride debate?

Here is information regarding the contentious fluoride debate in Calgary, which is being echoed in many cities elsewhere in Canada and the U.S.

Sodium Fluoride Debate in Calgary

Calgary officials have had long discussions about whether or not to add fluoride to the drinking water. In fact, the council voted 10-3 in favor of removing fluoride from the city’s tap water back in 2011.

The main reasons for stopping fluoridation was the cost to the city, which was $570,000 per year, plus necessary upgrades to the water treatment facilities which were estimated at $5 million. Some council members felt that “mass-dosing” the public was unethical, especially as water from the nearby Bow and Elbow rivers naturally contain between 0.1 and 0.4mg of fluoride per liter. The artificially fluoridated water aimed for 0.7 mg per liter.

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Reasons to Support Fluoridation

Proponents of the fluoride debate cite Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, who reported that the removal of fluoride had a negative impact on children’s health. A study by the University of Calgary found cavity rates increased by 3.8 surfaces per child over the five years since fluoridation of tap water was halted.

Researchers looked at the dental records and teeth of 5,000 children in Calgary and Edmonton which showed a considerable increase in cavities and tooth decay after fluoridation of the tap water ceased. The concern was particularly high for children living in poverty who did not go to the dentist and in some cases did not even own a toothbrush. They argued that fluoride in the saliva fights bacteria and reduces tooth decay while being totally harmless.

Reasons for opposing Fluoridation

Opposers in the fluoroide debate cite the worry that adding toxic sodium fluoride could be a danger to health in the long-term, arguing that fluoride does not work when ingested, and that it is unethical to force a medication on the population without any choice.

Some studies indicate that consuming too much sodium fluoride may cause increased hip fractures and osteosarcoma; while other studies show no such correlation. Some people with fluoride sensitivity can also suffer pain and lack of energy.

The two undisputed facts about sodium fluoride are that a topical treatment of fluoride, performed by a dentist, reduces tooth decay, while too much fluoride taken orally causes fluorosis which is white specks on the teeth.

While the fluoride debate continues, you may want to discuss topical fluoride treatment with your doctor, particularly if you have a history of tooth decay. While adding sodium fluoride to the public water supply is controversial, applying fluoride topically to teeth is showing undisputable success in reducing tooth decay. 

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