Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in most water supplies. Fluoridation is the adjustment of the natural fluoride concentration to about one part of fluoride to one million parts of water. Although fluoridation is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay, the scare tactics of misguided poisonmongers have deprived many communities of its benefits.
How Poisonmongers Work
The antifluoridationists’ (“antis”) basic technique is the big lie. Made infamous by Hitler, it is simple to use, yet surprisingly effective. It consists of claiming that fluoridation causes cancer, heart and kidney disease, and other serious ailments that people fear. The fact that there is no supporting evidence for such claims does not matter. The trick is to keep repeating them—because if something is said often enough, people tend to think there must be some truth to it.
A variation of the big lie is the laundry list. List enough “evils,” and even if proponents can reply to some of them, they will never be able to cover the entire list. This technique is most effective in debates, letters to the editor, and television news reports. Another variation is the simple statement that fluoridation doesn’t work. Although recent studies show less difference than there used to be in decay rates between fluoridated and nonfluoridated communities, the benefit is still substantial. In fact, the Public Health Service estimates that every dollar spent for community fluoridation saves about fifty dollars in dental bills.
A key factor in any anti campaign is the use of printed matter. Because of this, antis are very eager to have their views printed. Scientific journals will rarely publish them, but most local newspapers are willing to express minority viewpoints regardless of whether facts support them. A few editors even welcome the controversy the antis generate—expecting that it will increase readership.
The aim of anti “documents” is to create the illusion of scientific controversy. Often they quote statements that are out of date or out of context. Quotes from obscure or hard-to-locate journals are often used. Another favored tactic is to misquote a profluoridation scientist, knowing that even if the scientist protests, the reply will not reach all those who read the original misquote.
Half-truths are commonly used. For example, saying that fluoride is a rat poison ignores the fact that poison is a matter of dose. Large amounts of many substances—even pure water—can poison people. But the trace amount of fluoride contained in fluoridated water will not harm anyone.
“Experts” are commonly quoted. It is possible to find someone with scientific credentials who is against just about anything. Most “experts” who speak out against fluoridation, however, are not experts on the subject. There are, of course, a few dentists and physicians who oppose fluoridation. Some of them object to fluoridation as a form of government intrusion, even though they know it is safe and effective.
Continue Reading: Why Fluoridation Is Important.
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Water Fluoridation (illuminutti.com)
- Portland City Council approves fluoride for water supply (kgw.com)
- CDC findings on fluoridated water (kansas.com)
- 3 Steps to Prevent Fluorosis (topdentists.com)