Does Fluoridation of Drinking Water Actually Reduce Cavities

This, obviously, is the most important question, since it is the sole justification for adding fluoride to the public water system. According to conventional academic wisdom, the basis for fluoridating water to prevent cavities hinges on a study conducted in 1933-1934 by the United States Health Service, led by Dr. H. Trendley Dean, in which communities with naturally fluoridated water were compared to communities having low levels of fluoride in their water. Bauxite, Arkansas, was chosen as the study city, since it had a natural level of fluoride of 14 ppm. Researchers claimed that Bauxite had a dental caries (tooth decay) rate of 39 percent compared to unfluoridated communities of 65 percent. This sounds very impressive.

Numerous studies have now shown that cities with fluoridated water, when compared to unfluoridated cities, either have no reduction in cavities or the unfluoridated cities have an even lower incidence of caries. If fluoridating the water could reduce the incidence of cavities, then fluoridated San Francisco should have a drastically lower incidence of cavities than unfluoridated Los Angeles. In truth, Los Angeles has a lower incidence of tooth decay than San Francisco.

The USPHS used thirty-nine thousand school children to carry out one of the largest U.S. studies ever done on fluoridation and tooth decay. The results of this important study were not made available to the public until Dr. John Yiamouyiannis forced the release of the report under the Freedom of Information Act. Once he reviewed the data, he realized why they wanted it kept secret: it clearly demonstrated that the incidence of tooth decay in fluoridated and unfluoridated areas was no different. When confronted with this damaging information, the defenders of fluoridation stated that there was a difference in children below age six. Once again it was shown that in the fluoridated group tooth eruption was delayed or prevented, resulting in fewer teeth. It was the old idea: fewer teeth, fewer cavities.

In 1981 Ziegelbecker reviewed all published studies and found no evidence of cavity reduction by fluoridating water supplies.112 In another study of eight developed countries, Mark Diesendorf looked at the data on decayed, missing and filled (DMFT) teeth over a thirty-year period and found no difference between fluoridated and unfluoridated cities.113

In reviewing the literature on fluoridation and tooth decay, nothing I found convinced me more of the dreadful error of fluoridation of public water supplies than the testimony of Dr. John Colquhoun, a man of incredible integrity and courage. All of us are vulnerable to error and being led astray, either by the deception of others or by our own desire to believe. But, it takes a man of enormous courage and conviction to admit publicly that he has been in error, and to endure the scorn of his colleagues in an effort to correct his error. Dr. Colquhoun is such a man.

As a dentist of high repute, he was chosen to promote the new program of fluoridation in his home city of Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. From his position as the Principal Dental Officer, he led the battle to fluoridate not only Auckland but the rest of New Zealand as well, whose population had been resisting government efforts. Because New Zealand's dental care system was socialized, Colquhoun was able to collect large amounts of data on tooth decay rates, especially in poor areas. He wrote widely quoted papers on the dramatic fall in tooth decay rates in the fluoridated city. Like others today, he attacked his colleagues who dared to disagree, sometimes viciously. His success in promoting fluoridation was so phenomenal that he was elected president of the Fluoridation Society

In 1980 he was chosen to make a world tour to further study fluoridation efforts by colleagues in other countries. Before he left, his superiors confided in him that new evidence had arisen indicating that tooth decay was already declining in unfluoridated school districts at a rate equal to that of the fluoridated areas. He was told that the elite members of the fluoride "team" would soon discover the cause of this problem and correct it.

Colquhoun's world tour took him to North America, Britain, Europe, and Australia, where he met all of the experts promoting fluoridation in their respective countries. Much to his surprise, he discovered that these experts were having the same problem as his colleagues in New Zealand. They were finding dramatic declines in tooth decay of equal magnitude in both fluoridated and unfluoridated communities. Again, they had no explanation.

On his return, Dr. Colquhoun reviewed the dental statistics collected on all children living in Auckland, and to his surprise he found that children living in unfluoridated areas had fewer fillings and better overall dental health than those in fluoridated areas. It is important to remember that New Zealand's dental program is completely socialized, so that all children receive essentially the same care.

At this juncture, Dr. Colquhoun requested dental statistics from the rest of New Zealand, and was told that they were not to be made public. Review of the information made clear why: it clearly demonstrated that the number of children with perfect teeth was greater in the unfluoridated areas. Such a revelation would have endangered the fluoridation program, since its sole stated goal was to reduce dental caries in youth. The data were eventually published.

Meanwhile, in the United States, fluoridation promotion experts refused for many years to release their own data comparing fluoridated and unfluoridated areas, surveys that clearly demonstrate no difference in tooth decay rates between fluoridated and unfluoridated areas. Other large population studies in Missouri and Arizona have shown similar results.

In fact, some studies have shown a direct connection between cavity incidence and fluoridation levels. For instance, when Dr. Steelink reviewed dental records of all school children in Tucson, Arizona, some twenty-six thousand children, he found higher cavity occurrence in fluoridated areas. In fact, the higher the fluoride intake, the greater the number of cavities. Similar results were seen in Australia, Britain, Canada, Sri Lanka, Greece, Malta, Spain, Hungary, and India.

India is an interesting anomaly in this story, in that it has been leading the fight against fluoridation for a long time. Why? Because naturally high fluoride water levels in that country have created ongoing health problems in many Indian communities. In a thirty-year study of over 400,000 children, Dr. Teito and his team found that as fluoride levels in the water increased, tooth decay also increased.

So what can account for the steep drop in tooth decay in this country? A review of dental statistics clearly indicates that tooth decay began to decline sometime in the 1930s. Fluoride wasn't added to toothpaste by Proctor & Gamble until early 1960, so brushing with fluoride toothpaste could not have had anything to do with this decrease. One of the most important factors in improved dental health was better overall nutrition and greater consumption of fruits and vegetables (greatly assisted by the introduction of refrigerators about this time). Others have pointed to the eightfold increase of cheese consumption, which has been shown to inhibit tooth decay, most likely due to its high calcium content.

Not to be outdone, fluoridation proponents began to rig their studies to purposefully show that fluoridation reduces cavities. A good case in point is the famous Hastings Fluoridation Experiment. Dr. Cloquhoun obtained the data on this often-cited study by using his country's version of our Freedom of Information Act. He found that, to begin with, dentists were ordered to change the way they diagnosed tooth decay, toughening the criteria of what could be called a cavity, so that fluoridationists in his country could report a dramatic fall in cavities with the introduction of fluoridation.

Even more devious, New Zealand fluoridationists originally included the city of Napier as an unfluoridated control. Then suddenly, without explanation, they dropped Napier from the study. Why? Because tooth decay rates in unfluoridated Napier actually declined even more than the fluoridated city, and researchers couldn't let the public know that, so they just eliminated the "problem" from the study. Similar deceptions were used in the Grand Rapids, Newburgh, Evanston and Brantford studies in the United States. This is not only bad science but criminal behavior, since by then studies had demonstrated that fluoride was associated with dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis, osteoporosis, increased cancer rates, lower fertility, weakened bones, genetic damage, and even damage to the brain. There was, and is, absolutely no justification for adding fluoride to drinking water!

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