In 2011, the Calgary, Alberta, Canada, city council voted overwhelmingly to remove fluoride from the public water supply, citing insufficient medical evidence that it offered any benefit.
Can you guess what happened?
Tooth decay increased. Here’s how they discovered the effects:
Researchers compared rates of tooth decay among second-grade students in Calgary with second graders in Edmonton, a city north of Calgary that still adds fluoride to its drinking water. The study looked at 600 children between 2004 and 2005 before the fluoride was removed from the water supply, and then examined data after the fluoride was removed from nearly 3,500 children in both cities from 2013 and 2014. Researchers saw a significant increase in tooth decay.
The study was designed to help make sure that the increase was due to a lack of fluoride in the water, so they looked at many other factors. Everything pointed to lack of fluoridation being the primary cause.
Dentists didn’t agree with removing the fluoride
They continued to argue for fluoridated water, as ideal and cost effective for fighting tooth decay. Fluoride in the water is especially important for people who can’t afford to visit the dentist regularly, they emphasized.
Fluoride can be controversial
Many American cities, such as Portland, Oregon, have chosen to remove fluoride from drinking water, despite no evidence of harmful effects from adding it. And fluoride opponents argue against medical science, continuing to use already disproven claims, such as fluoridated water can lower a child’s IQ.
Could the new data coming out of Canada change minds here?
Experts in Canada hope cities in the U.S. and Canada might rethink decisions to remove fluoride. And no studies have been released looking at cities such as Portland, comparing it to similar U.S. cities that do add fluoride to the water.
The Calgary study will hopefully help the supporters of fluoridation. It provides solid medical evidence that fluoride in drinking water is a positive component of public health needs, in Canada and the U.S.
Talk to your dentist about fluoride
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