Does fluoride help public water supplies?

Does fluoride help public water supplies?

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by Keely Chalmers

Bio | Email | Follow: @KeelyChalmers

kgw.com

Posted on May 10, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 11 at 10:20 AM

You've no doubt heard that fluoride is good for you and that it protects your teeth from decay. For decades many towns have even been putting fluoride into their water supply to make sure citizens get enough of it. But some are now debating whether that's a good idea.

Since the 1940's fluoride has been added to many public water supplies. The city of Portland does not add it. But many other local communities, including Keizer, do. Which means with every drink of tap water Keizer residents get a small dose of fluoride.

It's a dose former Keizer city councilor Richard Walsh says is too much. Last year he launched an effort to lower fluoride levels in the city's drinking water.

“We’re paying money to add this poison to our water,” said Walsh.

Walsh’s efforts failed, but he did succeed in stirring quite a dental debate.

“The dentists are saying it’s the most effective way to deliver (fluoride)... well that's true... it’s the most effective way to deliver a lot of things... are you going to use the water system to deliver Prozac?” argued Walsh.

The debate grew when in January when the federal government lowered the recommended levels of fluoride in water over concerns it was causing fluorosis in children. Fluorosis is a condition where white spots form on the teeth.

But Lake Oswego dentist Dr. Bill Osmunson says excess fluoride is harming more than just our teeth.

“It also causes damage to the thyroid, to the brain.. we have a lower IQ's in communities with fluoridation… It's one of the worst things we're doing in public health,” said Dr. Osmunson.

Keizer dentist Ben Sutter says all that anti-fluoride research is simply wrong.

“There are areas in the world which have 6 times more fluoride in the community water supply than recommended... there's no incidents of Alzheimer's... there no increased rate of liver cancer,” said Dr. Sutter.

For parent Heidi Kaiser fluoride in her water is just fine.

“It doesn't phase me in the slightest really,” said Kaiser.

She says stronger brighter teeth with a simple drink water is something she and her kids can smile about.

The CDC named the fluoridation of drinking water one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century. Still, since it is now found in everything from water to toothpaste to mouthwash the EPA is considering lowering the maximum amount of fluoride allowed in drinking water.

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