Water Fluoridation: why is it still being debated?

13 January 2015

Water fluoridation has been in use around the world for 70 years, its efficacy in reducing dental caries in adults and children well demonstrated. 

However, despite the weight of evidence backing the effectiveness of water fluoridation and the US-based Centers for Disease Control citing it as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century,, there are still many Australians, particularly in Queensland where local councils have the power to decide if water will be fluoridated or not, who do not have access to cheap, safe and effective practice.

Increasingly, a small but vocal and well-funded lobby opposing water fluoridation are fighting councils as the debate implementing the practice, citing studies that they purport show causal links between fluoride in drinking water and a number of diseases and conditions such as autism, and lower intelligence.

The problem with these studies argues Michael Foley, is that many of them are methodologically weak and ignore the fact that correlation is not causation.

The anti-water fluoridation lobby essentially cherry picks the studies they believe back their case, ignoring the majority of larger, higher quality studies that show no such negative correlation exists.

In contrast to their claims that water fluoridation is not backed by high quality scientific evidence, it is in fact one of the most heavily studied public health measures, with studies pointing to a strong reduction in dental caries or cavities across the population.

The misinformation propagated by the anti-fluoridation lobby ignores the substantial weight of this evidence and compromises water fluoridation across the country, with an impact on the overall health of the community.

Scientists and health professionals must take a stand and ensure that the water fluoridation debate is guided by sound scientific evidence and reasoned debate and not conspiracy theories and scaremongering. 

(source: Crikey.com.au)