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Monday, June 27, 2011

The Fluoride Debate

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Last week via Facebook a friend of mine has been campaigning to stop fluoride being added to the water supply. This is a practice that has been employed for more than 40 years by government bodies in most water supplies in Australia. The purpose is to provide a digestible supplement that reduces the risk of tooth decay for the population as a whole.
My friend and I have had a short debate. I support fluoridation from the view point of one who remembers a nation of poor teeth even in those very young. It was extremely common to see people from their 30s and 40s with dentures. Of course dental techniques have come a long way and we are able to save many more teeth than were able once before.
My friend is a young mother and her children are quite young and growing and developing and naturally she is concerned about what they may be ingesting. She has read evidence that suggests fluoride is responsible for all sorts of disease in society like; asthma, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
There are many articles and scientific studies that prove the evidence for BOTH sides of the argument.
Governments spend considerable money fluoridating water. 
We look to them and trust them to be doing the right thing for the community.
It begs the question; "would our government knowingly poison it's people?"
Make no mistake, we should not blindly accept what governments do, they are our elected facilitators and we should always be questioning.
BUT
How do we decipher the conflicting information?
Which scientific study do we believe?
I DO believe chemicals can be harmful and in our home, our environment and our food chain, Craig and I have absolutely limited them. I wholeheartedly support a persons right to live without them.
Having said that, obesity still remains the number 1 cause of disease in this country whether directly or indirectly. As a nation our sugar/fructose intake is tenfold what it was 100 years ago. There is not much point fighting to exclude a marginal chemical but continuing to feed processed foods to our children. From their cereal in the morning to the tomato sauce on their packet pasta they are being bombarded with chemical and sugar. We now have a generation who cannot even drink alcohol unless it has a tonne of sugar added like a soft drink.
So how do we way up the chemical damage?
Is it like sins? Big sins and little sins?
Legal drugs and Illegal drugs? Both surely do damage.
Should we as a society err on the side of caution, eliminate fluoride? It's like immunisation, do we have the right to say it is compulsory? Because that is in effect what we do by fluoridation of water.
What are your thoughts? 
How do we get the information for informed decisions in the face of such conflicting information? 
What about those of you in other countries, is your water fluoridated? 
How do you feel about it?

8 comments:

  1. It was naturally-occurring fluoride in the water supply in Colorado that proved that fluoride stopped tooth decay.

    If there were not such a big overlap between the anti-immunisation people and the anti-fluoride people, I might be more concerned, but there are far more important food issues than fluoride in the water. I just hope your friend is aware that there has been a rise in dental cavities recently due to children drinking bottled water, juice and soft drinks instead of drinking water from the fluoridated supply.

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  2. Interesting post!
    There is a lot to say on this topic, but too much for a comment here, so I'll just keep it at this - no one should have the right to force people to take anything. If people believe fluoride to be beneficial, they can choose to use it. Others can choose not to.
    "Who owns me?"

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  3. Interesting discussion. I'll be interested in what people have to say.

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  4. This debate was raging when my boys were small.
    Never normally a fence sitter, I'm torn between the possible risks and the benefits. Think il study up on this one.
    I agree people should have choice.
    Chris

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  5. As a kid that grew up in QLD with no fluoride, I can tell you my dental bills are in the extreme now !

    And now with tank water for my kids, I'm faced with the same dilema. The only option is tablets, and I won't do that because of the bone density issues - i'd rather they need dentures then hip replacements when they are older.

    But "apparently" we need so little, much of it now occurs in the foods we eat, that its almost a non issue. I've been told letting your tank water kids use adult toothpaste and not spitting out the foam will do the trick (or so says my well paid dentist).

    So many battles on the food front - drive sme nuts Tanya. Its so much easier to just cook it yourself then do all the requesite research and food label reading.

    Hope dinner was great !

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  6. I see this more as an issue of social equality. Not all pockets of society have the same access to education, resources or healthcare -and while there are pockets of the populace who find this issue contentious and, through their own research or investigation have decided they wish to opt out, I'm on the pro-fluoride side of this debate simply because it's easier for those people to opt-out, than it is for the marginalised and disadvantaged to opt-in if it were not part of public policy.

    Given those segments of the population face many more health issues through their lifetime, combined with less access to healthcare than those of us who have resouces + education, and given the impact of poor dental health on quality of life, combined with the greatly conflicting research, I tend to think there's a greater societal benefit to fluoridation.

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  7. I really thought this is a topic that there should be plenty of dialogue about and I have been very surprised at the lack of comment. Part of me wonders if people don't feel safe enough to comment but I assure you, this is a discussion only, no rights, no wrongs, just opinions and ideas. I would like to thank those of you who have commented and thought about this topic and not been dismissive. This is by no means the end of the discussion either and one of my greater disappointments is knowing that these posts are still read randomly months later but do not attract any comments. Please, if you are reading this post and the comments down the track, go ahead and lay down some thoughts.

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  8. We have well water that does not have naturally ocurring fluriode. When my daughter was young the dentist recommended her taking daily fluriode tablets. In the beginning I agreed but never kept up with it. Anyone with young kids knows how hard it is to get a child to take a pill every day until they are 12. Needless to say we only did it for a few months. Looking back on this I am glad we did not continue it. I don't feel anyone should be forced to take anything and not have a choice. Daughter turned 12 recently and as of right now no cavities or dental issues. As more and more information surfaces about fluriode I just don't feel comfortable medicating my children with it.
    Blessings
    Diane

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