Here is a illustrative article from the 1950s……In the early days, caution was the advice and judgement of responsible scientists regarding addition of flouride to water. In fact, some of the same concerns raised below, in 1952, remain today. Caution (e.g., precautionary principle) was certainly justified then, as now.
In time, some dentists turned advocates convinced nonprofit associations (e.g., AMA) to support fluoride addition. These are top-down driven organizations, and once they take a position, others will go along….to get alone. These circular endorsements (we support it because they do) of various nonprofit and political advocacy groups pushed through the barriers and some cities began adding fluoride. This along with results of the guinea pig (children) trials in several cities, were used to argue for water fluoridation, and the prevailing presumption changed. The presumption of necessary precaution changed to the presumption of safety, even though addition of fluoride to tap water cannot be “proven” harmless or safe. The presumption of safety has remained for many years in the dental community and the CDC, and even though studies may raise health concerns, these interest groups will continue to presume fluoride in drinking water is safe and good unless proven otherwise. What ever study is done to raise health concerns about fluoride, the institutional supporters will raise some argument to explain it away as to why it is not true or relevant, and such minds have become closed to any criticisms of fluoride addition. This reflects the power of presumption and an closed mind (perhaps for political reasons), especially by government institutions and professions that have tied an issue to its own identity (like dentists believing they are doing good by promoting water fluoridation) as an advocacy cause. Not much science remains, unless the conclusion supports the presumed outcome of safety….(hence, only name calling of fluoride opponents remains….)
Howard V. Smith. Fluoride Controversy. Education Digest; Apr1952, Vol. 17 Issue 8, p54.
The article reports on the controversy regarding the safety of fluoridation of water in the United States. Howard V. Smith, a University of Arizona chemist and co-discoverer of the role which fluorine plays in dental health, opposes to the fluoridation of water supplies until more is known about the effect. According to Smith, scientists do not know what safe fluoride concentrations in each climatic zone should be. In addition, individual reactions to fluorine and differences in the amount of water consumed as a result of an occupation have a bearing on the amount of fluorine which can safely be taken in. Smith claims that the safest procedure for reducing caries is to paint children’s teeth with fluoride and that should be done under the school’s supervision. Meanwhile, the American Medical Association issued a statement about the issue.