Combating Misinformation About Fluoride
Water fluoridation is one of the most cost-effective and equitable ways to protect people’s teeth. However, opponents of fluoridation continue to spread misinformation about its safety. New Zealand is currently experiencing a rise in the number of communities discussing water fluoridation due to this misinformation, and its Health minister, Tony Ryall, recently alerted the public about some of the tactics used by fluoride opponents:
“I think communities need to be aware there will be highly organised campaigns of misinformation. There will be people who come from out of town and tell all sorts of shock-horror stories around fluoridation. Communities need to know that that’s part of the strategy that these groups run,” Ryall added.
Portraying fluoride, a mineral found in water, as potentially dangerous is misguided and denies people the benefit of healthy teeth. Water fluoridation benefits all residents—young and old, rich or poor, and from every ethnic group. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, fluoride is important for babies and children to develop strong teeth.
In addition to helping people keep their teeth, even into their senior years, community water fluoridation also saves money. A Colorado study showed that fluoridation saved the state nearly $149 million in unnecessary treatment costs. In terms of individuals’ wallets, this represents a savings of about $61 per person—not a bad return on investment!
We have many demands on our time, and sifting through scientific information can be daunting. Luckily, fluoridation is one of the most studied public health practices. The American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Academy of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control, and many other respected organizations devoted to improving families’ health have endorsed water fluoridation.
In an age where there are many overwhelming problems, fighting tooth decay is a winnable battle. Water fluoridation is our greatest asset in the fight for healthy teeth.