Authors: Amanda Just, MS, and David Kennedy, DDS from CHD's Partner: International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT)
Fluoridation is the addition of an industrial compound to the public drinking water for the purpose of altering the consumer’s oral health. Municipalities that add fluoride to their water supplies do so based on a “one dose fits all” approach. This blanket approach fails to address the smaller size of infants and children and the larger proportions of water and other fluoridated beverages they drink. Significantly, a formula-fed infant drinks its weight in water every three to four days, resulting in the most vulnerable members of the population consuming by far the largest dose of fluoride
Fluoridation advocates have acknowledged that fluoride’s predominant effects for growing decay-resistant, harder teeth come from topical use (i.e., applying it directly onto teeth) as opposed to systemic exposure (i.e., drinking or ingesting fluoride through water or other means). However, research also has indicated that fluoride does not aid in preventing pit and fissure decay (the most prevalent form of tooth decay in the U.S.) or in preventing baby bottle tooth decay (prevalent in less affluent communities). In malnourished children and individuals of lower socioeconomic status, fluoride may actually increase the risk of dental caries due to calcium depletion and other circumstances. Given this body of research—and Harvard experts’ warning that fluoride is one of 12 industrial chemicals known to cause developmental neurotoxicity in human beings—why do public health officials persist in claiming that water fluoridation is either necessary or safe?
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