Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Voters in Wichita, Kansas, Reject Fluoridated Water

The first paragraph is directed towards my fellow dentists.  Pssst... Hey you guys... who wants to relocate with me to Wichita?  There is going to be a surge in dental decay for the folks there in the upcoming years.  The misinformed citizens of this city have allowed fringe activists promoting myths and pseudo-science, to influence them to vote against public water fluoridation.  As we know, without fluoride in the water supply, the people will miss out on the easiest, most cost-effective method to ingest the proper amount of fluoride to strengthen their teeth!!!  There are going to be a ton of decayed teeth requiring restorative work!  Talk about a potential gold-mine!  

Ahem.  Pardon my facetiousness.

This is a link to the original story published by The Wichita Eagle.  

Now, I'm all for personal liberties, and I'm generally against government intervention in our lives, so I can appreciate the citizens of Wichita telling the government to stick-it!  Was it the right decision though?  I would answer with a resounding: no.

As reported in the article, the groups against water fluoridation in Kansas include:  Fluoride Free Kansas, Wichitans Opposed to Fluoridation and the Kansas Republican Assembly.  Their claims include fluoride having 'potential side-effects,' such as 'fluorosis-related staining of teeth, cancer, thyroid disease and reduced intelligence.'  They are also concerned that the fluoride added to the water is acquired in a dangerous, unregulated, artificial means.  In addition, (similar to fictional satirical character General Jack D. Ripper of the movie Dr. Strangelove), they claim that fluoridation is 'mass medication' forcing people to ingest a chemical against their will.  For their sake, I hope they're using non-fluoridated water to mix and drink their kool-aid!

Passionate local politician Mark Gietzen, who is against water fluoridation had this to say to 'The Wichita Eagle,' "There’s no proof that fluoride does any good. It certainly does less good than xylitol gum... -the- most outlandish unproven thing the fluoride people come up with is a 40 percent reduction in cavities."

This gentleman is not impressed with a proven [yes, proven (article one, article two)] 40% reduction in cavities???  Cavities that would cost the person hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to treat over the course of their life?  A 40% reduction in cavities in exchange for adding 0.7 parts per million fluoride to the public water (increasing your water bill from 15-91 cents per month).  Would he be more impressed with a reduction of cavities of 75%?  99%?  I doubt it. The underlying issue here for this politician isn't the health ramifications, and it's not the cost of the process either; it's the government involvement removing his freedom of choice that has him so upset.  Again, I can understand a healthy suspicion of government involvement; however with overwhelming evidence-based, peer-reviewed scientific research proving the safety and efficacy of water fluoridation, your fears can be assuaged. 

That's right, I, a dentist, am telling you that having fluoride in the water will prevent you from having to see me as regularly to treat dental decay!  You would think that dentists would rally with the ‘anti-fluoride’ crowd to encourage more decay in citizens to drum up business!  However, as dentists, we are first and foremost medical providers, practicing preventive medicine.  Therefore, we are very much in favor of water fluoridation to protect the health of our patients’ teeth and the public at large.

Unfortunately for the people of Wichita, the scientific & medical community was railroaded by the loud (ie. ignorant) fringe-sector of anti-fluoride zealots.  Hearing that a dangerous chemical (fatal if consumed in concentrations 10,000-20,000 times the amount in an 8oz glass of fluoridated water, so the word ‘dangerous’ may be slightly misleading) can be added by our untrustworthy government into our water supply would certainly make any law-abiding citizen fearful.  Fear is a powerful emotion that can easily influence an otherwise rational person to behave irrationally, in this case, ignoring scientifically backed facts, to vote the wrong way.

The American Dental Association developed a fantastic pdf publication in 2005 entitled Fluoridation Facts, that is meant to answer questions community members may have when considering fluoridation for their water.  The publication even states at the beginning that “A number of these questions are based on myths and misconceptions advanced by a small faction opposed to water fluoridation. The answers to the questions that appear in FluoridationFacts are based on generally accepted, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence. They are offered to assist policy makers and the general public in making informed decisions.  The answers are supported by thousands of credible scientific articles, including the more than 350 references within the document. It is hoped that decision-makers will make sound choices based on this body of generally accepted, peer-reviewed science.”

I hope the citizens of Wichita who voted against water fluoridation will read this publication, if for no other reason than to educate themselves on science-based facts on water fluoridation, instead of the nonsense presented by the loud and aggressive fringe activists.

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