Dental Tribune USA

Expert group questions benefits of fluoridation

By Daniel Zimmermann, DTI
August 27, 2008

LEIPZIG, Germany: Experts at the 28th Conference of the International Society for Fluoride Research in Toronto, Canada, have raised new concerns about the effects of fluoride on the human body. According to their research, high exposure of fluoride in drinking water and other sources can not only result in neurological changes inside the brain but also have an effect on bone quality or tooth development. New findings from the US even suggested a lack of evidence for caries reduction and highlighted the extensive damage and costs associated with dental fluorosis, a health condition caused by an overdose of fluoride.

The fluoridation of drinking water is common in many countries around the world and has been praised by international organisations as an effective health method for the prevention and treatment of dental decay. While Australia and Malaysia endorse full water fluoridation, countries like China, Japan, the Philippines and India do not fluoridate their water. Up to now, only little high quality research had been carried out on the broader question of fluoride and health, and available evidence did not allow confident estimates to be made of other possible risks.

“Most dental and medical students are taught that the only side effect of consuming fluoridated water is dental fluorosis, “ Associate Professor and conference host Hardy Limeback summed up his concerns. “But when the National Research Council panel in the US of which I was a member reviewed the literature—largely from nonfluoridated countries like India and China—we found fluoride had adverse effects on several other tissues.”

Dr Limeback added that the key question is whether there is an adequate margin of safety between the doses of fluoride at which these effects are observed and the doses that people living in fluoridated communities are receiving, not only from drinking uncontrolled amounts of fluoridated water, but also from several other sources. “Many of the scientists who attended this conference do not believe that this margin exists,” he added.

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