The Future of Fluoride
Some advocates believe that the truth about fluoride does not reach the public easily because fluoride, produced as a toxic waste byproduct of many types of heavy industry - such as aluminum, steel, fertilizer, glass, cement and other industries -- must be disposed of somewhere. If it's not used as an additive to water, manufacturers would have to pay millions of dollars to dispose of it properly, so the pressure to keep fluoride listed as a healthy additive to water-and not as an environmental toxin that requires costly disposal - is great and political pressures to keep fluoride in the drinking water is strong.
And the U.S. government has been one of the key supporters for fluoridation. Despite the questions regarding fluoride's effectiveness and safety, the administration's stated federal health objective is to increase the number of Americans with fluoridated tap water from previous levels of 62 percent to 75 percent in 2000.
Given half a century of support for fluoridation, it's also not likely that the American Dental Association will backtrack on its support for fluoridation.
Some cities are taking action, and making the decision to stop fluoridating their water supply - or not to fluoridate in the first place. For example, the City Council of Santa Barbara, California voted in late November of 1999 in favor of a resolution that "disagrees with and rejects the State's recommendation to fluoridate the city's public water system." With this action Santa Barbara joined the California cities of Santa Cruz, El Cajon, La Mesa, Escondido and Helix, Riverview, and Lakeside water districts that have each passed protective resolutions or ordinances in 1999. The cities of San Diego and Sunnyvale have ordinances prohibiting fluoridation that pre-date the State's law. The city officials of Santa Barbara indicated that adding a chemical to the water supply to medicate everyone was not the right approach and requested that the City's staff look into other programs to help children obtain fluoride for dental health.
The only admission that you're likely to see is the 1997 addition of warnings on toothpaste tubes, that now say: "Dont SwallowUse only a pea-sized amount for children under six." and "Children under six should be supervised while brushing with any toothpaste to prevent swallowing." In areas where the drinking water already contains fluoride, brushing more than once daily with more than a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste can cause fluorosis, the discoloration and spotting of the teeth that affects an estimated 20% of children. What Can You Do?
Besides learning more about the effects of fluoride and getting involved in your community's decisions regarding water fluoridation, you can buy an unfluoridated, natural toothpaste, such as Tom's of Maine, particularly for young children.
You can also pay attention to the water you drink, and use filtered or bottled waters. Some water filters can remove fluoride from the water, but carbon-based filters such as the Brita filter do not, so be sure to find the right type of filter for fluoride.
Many bottled waters contain no additional fluoride. You can find out the fluoride and other mineral content of your favorite bottled waters at Bottled Water Web's Bottlers listing
brands, for example, contain no measurable fluoride, but Perrier
has 0.12 parts per million.