I was searching the web for certain info and ran across the EWG statement on fluoride submitted as a valentines day present to the USEPA and Dept of Health and Human Services, dated Feb. 14, 2011. (click here for the entire comment) In times past I have almost always ended up disagreeing with EWG on issues.
So I believe this is may be a first….I have not read the entire statement, but I do agree with a major point included in their comments, which I have reproduced below. Addition of fluoride to drinking water is not necessary for dental health…..dentists need to stop pretending that it is, and focus on providing dental care, not drinking water medication.
4. Water fluoridation guidelines should take into account the fact that fluoride ingestion is not necessary to obtain reported anti-caries effects.
We urge HHS to consider the benefits and drawbacks of water fluoridation in comparison to other methods of fluoride application. The federal agencies’ action on fluoride is based on an assurance that fluoride risks are concentrated on a small subgroup of children who are at an elevated risk of severe fluorosis. We question the comprehensiveness of this assessment, and also believe that these are unacceptable risks since sufficient fluoride can be delivered to teeth with methods that result in lesser system ingestion.
A CDC review of fluoride effectiveness found comparable anti-caries benefits for fluoride deliver via topical treatment or water fluoridation (Griffin 2007). Studies find that the sustained use of a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste achieves substantial reduction in dental caries, with minimum risk of fluorosis. A 2010 study of children drinking unfluoridated water found a 40 percent reduction in caries with no detectable fluorosis in middle school aged children living in Bergen Norway. On the contrary children given fluoride lozenges had caries reduction but a 6.58-fold increase in mild to moderate enamel fluorosis (Pendrys 2010).
Fluoride benefits vary by age. There is no evidence to support fluoride exposure for the developing fetus and infants age 0 to 6 months (Leverett 1997, ADA 2011). On the contrary exposures during this period may be harmful. Most studies as well as exhaustive reviews by EPA and the European SCHER find that formula-fed babies in regions with water fluoridation ingest too much fluoride over their first year of life (Hujoel 2009, EPA 2011, EU SCHER 2010). For this reason parents should be cautioned to mix infant formula with fluoride-free water, although this practice is uncommon.
In the United States approximately 95 percent of toothpaste sold contains fluoride, making this a common and effective method for delivering fluoride to teeth. By weight, toothpaste has approximately 1,500 times more fluoride than water with the HHS guideline (~1,000 ppm vs 0.7 ppm), however EPA’s exposure assessment suggests that even accounting for improper uses far less fluoride from toothpaste will reach systemic circulation compared to the amount ingested in water (EPA 2011b).
The European Union differs from the HHS, in that it finds that there is no obvious advantage to water fluoridation compared to topical treatment for adults and children whose permanent teeth are in (EU SCHER 2010). Thus topical treatments could be a better delivery mechanism for fluoride when the impacts to teeth bone and other types of toxicity are fully accounted for.