Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Skeptic's Alert: Another Community of Crazies (Old News)

I ran across this post at Freakonomics the other day:
[My dentist] told me that tooth decay in general, even among wealthy patients, is getting worse and worse, particularly for people in middle age and above. The reason? An increased reliance on medications for heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, etc. Many of these medications, Dr. Reiss explained, produce drymouth, which is caused by a constricted salivary flow; because saliva kills bacteria in the mouth, a lack of it means increased bacteria, which leads to increased tooth decay. Given the choice of taking these medicines versus having some tooth decay, I’m sure most people would still choose the medicines—but I am guessing that most people haven’t thought about the link between the two.
followed by this in the comments:
The dentist's comments are a classic example of anecdotal beliefs espoused by many healthcare professionals to their patients without the backing of evidence-based medicine; i.e. clinical trials. If Dr. Reiss could back up his assertions with some evidence I would be more prone to believe them. And in case you are wondering, my skepticism arises from his broad claim that most medications used to treat modern chronic medical conditions cause dry mouth. Many medications do cause dry mouth, but of the ones I know that are used for today’s most common conditions, none of them stand out as particulary drying to the oral cavity. Furthermore, there is an alternative explanation that seems to me to more closely follow Occam's Razor, an explanation I might add that is popular among many other dentists. The increase in tooth decay seen in modern times can be linked to the increased popularity and pursuant consumption of bottled water, the nonfluorinated cousin of regular tap water. And of course we know that one of the greatest things you can do for your teeth is consume adequate amounts of fluoride. Go figure.
A little further along there was this:
I thought if a child ate enough toothpaste, he’d die of fluorosis – is this urban myth?
Dino to the rescue! (Someone else beat me to it, though.) I was researching an answer to the effect that no, fluorosis was a cosmetic discoloration of the tooth enamel (but the author may have been thinking, correctly, of the danger to children from mouthwash with high alcohol content) but in the process of finding links to document my comments, found this:

The Fluoride Action Network: A group vehemently opposed to the poor little halide.

Minimal googling on my part, though, came up with these reassurances that while I've been off nibbling the tops of the trees and losing the name Brontosaurus, nothing has changed. Just the tip of what I found:

CDC Fluoridation Home Page
Surgeon General 2004
Why Fluoridation is Important (QuackWatch)
American Dental Association
World Health Organization

In fact, Quackwatch has that very same Fluoride Action Network on their NOT RECOMMENDED list of information sources. I suppose I'm only just stumbling across this nonsense now because I'm the new kid on the block. Have people like Dr. Bartram, Flea and the Woo-Meister already demolished these pretenders before I got here, and/or is it time for more exposure?


At Sun Oct 01, 08:19:00 AM, Blogger FluorideNews said...

The comment that tooth decay is rising because people are avoiding their fluordiated tap water in favor of non-fluoridated bottled water is not scientific and just anecdotal.

There is no evidence that any American is fluoride deficient. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, from 1/2 - 1/3 of U.S. schoolchildren are fluoride overdosed and disply dental fluorosis - white spotted or yellow stained and sometimes pitted enamel.

Tooth decay is rising becaue diets are decaying.

An Australian study shows that children who drinkg non fluoridated water had the same amount of decay as fluoridated tap water drinkers. Another study actually showed that the bottled water drinkers had less tooth decay.

To address another of your concerns - Fluoride is so toxic that if a small child swallowed a whole tube, it could kill the child. Maybe it's not likely to happen; but that's why you should read the back of the toothpaste and read the warnings.

For more info

At Sun Oct 01, 09:56:00 AM, Blogger Clark Bartram said...

I'm pretty sure ORAC has handled that business. And by business I mean the people that have some kind of genetic predisposition to cling to conspirational(is that a word?) thinking and to be against public health measures that have unarguably improved our lives. Just search his site although it may be on the old version.

At Sun Oct 01, 11:10:00 AM, Blogger Alyson said...

Not that it is scientific or anything but I grew up in Hawaii whose water is not flouridated and have never had a cavity until recently (32). I did, however, have excellent dental care my whole life and my parents were advocates of good dental hygiene.

On the other hand, it could be genetics or luck, I never had braces either.

At Sun Oct 01, 06:47:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Dr. B: "Woo-meister" is my personal nickname for Orac. I love his stuff.

re: nyscof: Down, boy. Step away from the blog, and keep your hands where we can see the. Go back to your fellow, like minded anti-scientists. There is no rationalizing with the irrational.

At Mon Oct 02, 07:40:00 AM, Blogger FluorideNews said...

You said, "There is no rationalizing with the irrational."

I know; but we keep trying to educating old dinasaurs like yourself who won't take the time to actually read the fluoridation literature; but take you orders from your union the ADA.

I doubt you should have a problem with the National Academy of Scinces

Blue-Ribbon Scientific Panel Exposes Fluoridation's Serious Health Risks

New York - September 2006 -- Fluoride jeopardizes health - even at low levels deliberately added to public water supplies, according to data presented in a recent National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) National Research Council (NRC) report. Fluoride poses risks to the thyroid gland, diabetics, kidney patients, high water drinkers and others and can severely damage children's teeth. (1) At least three panel members advise avoiding fluoridated water.

Panel members took several years to read, understand and discuss hundreds of studies about fluoride's adverse health effects. "Unfortunately, many fluoridationists are dismissing this voluminous report as "only one study." It isn't. Many fluoridation promoters also mistakenly believe this report has nothing to do with water fluoridation at 1 ppm. However, it does according to several panel members," says Paul Beeber, President, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation (NYSCOF).

An Oregon newspaper reports, "NAS panel member Kathy Thiessen, PhD a former scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory who has studied fluoride for the EPA, said the report showed 'the potential is there' that water fluoridation is unhealthy. As for the studies finding that higher levels damage children's IQ, she said it's possible water fluoridation levels may have a similar, albeit reduced effect… the research suggests 'most people should minimize their fluoride intake' — which includes avoiding fluoridated water."

"NAS panel member Robert Isaacson, PhD a distinguished professor of neurobehavioral science at the State University of New York in Binghamton, agreed, saying that the possible effects on endocrines and hormones from water-fluoridation are 'something that I wouldn't want to happen to me…,'" reports the Portland Tribune.

NAS panel member Hardy Limeback, DDS, PhD associate professor of dentistry and head of the preventive dentistry program at the University of Toronto writes, "In my opinion, the evidence that fluoridation is more harmful than beneficial is now overwhelming and policy makers who avoid thoroughly reviewing recent data before introducing new fluoridation schemes do so at risk of future litigation."

Drs. Isaacson & Limeback advocate a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) of zero. Dr. Theissen says the MCLG should be well below 1 ppm. (7)

The 12-member NRC fluoride committee unanimously decided that fluoride's 4 milligrams per liter (4 mg/L) maximum-contaminant-level (MCL) must be lowered. They concluded that healthy average adults consuming 8 milligrams fluoride daily, via two liters of 4mg/L fluoridated water, risk weakened bones, fractures, and stage II skeletal fluorosis (pain, joint stiffness, pelvis and spine osteosclerosis).

However, some high-water drinkers consume 8 milligrams fluoride daily when only 1 mg/L is added to their water supplies, according to the report.

"The adult daily dosage is equivalent to a 2.28 mg a day dose for a child," says Chemistry Professor Emeritus, Paul Connett, PhD, Executive Director, Fluoride Action Network.

Fluoride is also in food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, dental products, pesticide residues, cigarette smoke and air emissions. The EPA is allowing additional fluoride in foods via sulfuryl fluoride pesticide residues. New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer wrote the EPA that, ""...the tolerances established by EPA are not sufficiently protective against adverse health effects," (5)

About 2/3 of U.S. water suppliers deliberately add fluoride chemicals (mostly industrial waste silicofluorides) to reach 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L, so-called optimal, in a failed effort to prevent tooth decay (6). But, "fluoride is a water contaminant over 1.3 mg/L," the NRC reports.

"This report is misleading by suggesting that the problem has to be studied to death before decisions can be made," says retired EPA scientist, Robert Carton, PhD. "The safe drinking water act requires the federal government to act if there is any indication of possible or anticipated adverse health effects in order to protect the most vulnerable subsets of the population," says Carton

"Fluoride has detrimental effects on the thyroid gland of healthy males at 3.5 mg a day.With iodine deficiency, the effect level drops to 0.7 milligrams/day for an average male, according to the report," says Carton.

Furthermore, studies linking fluoride to cancer and lowered IQ are plausible, reports the NRC.

Eleven unions representing over 7,000 EPA scientists, engineers, lawyers and others ask for a moratorium on fluoridation.(8)

The Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) of any substance in the water
supply is the unenforceable level by which no one is harmed. The MCLG is purely based on science; while the MCL is a political number based on ability to reduce fluoride levels.

"Based on the science reported by the NRC, the MCLG for fluoride should be closed to zero," says Carton.

This is why the MCLG for fluoride should be set near zero and/or fluoridation stopped. According to the NRC report:

A) Babies under one year consume over their adequate intake (to avoid
moderate fluorosis) from the water supply alone at the so-called
optimal concentrations (0.7 - 1.2 mg/L).

B) Some athletes, workers and/or military personnel already consume up
to 10 milligrams fluoride from optimally fluoridated water, alone.

C) "...severe renal insufficiency appears to increase bone fluoride
concentrations, perhaps as much as twofold."

D) "The elderly are at increased risk of high bone fluoride
concentrations due to accumulation over time..."

E) "There are medical conditions that can make people more susceptible
to the effects of fluoride."

F) "...several lines of information indicate an effect of fluoride
exposure on thyroid is difficult to predict exactly what
effects on thyroid function are likely at what concentration of
fluoride exposure and under what circumstances."

G) "...all children through 12 who take fluoride supplements (assuming
low water fluoride) will reach or exceed [optimal]."

"There is no evidence that any US child is fluoride-deficient; however The Centers for Disease Control reports that American schoolchildren are fluoride-overdosed with from 1/3 to 1/2 displaying dental fluorosis while tooth decay rates are climbing also. (5)," says Beeber

A Texarkana Gazette editorial reports, "While dentists still largely believe the benefits outweigh the risks, fluoridation is no longer beyond dispute. At the very least, the report indicates a need for caution....Virtues and vices sometimes come in the same package. What's good for the teeth looks more and more like it's bad for other body parts. That's not a slam dunk, that's a trade off." (3)


1) "Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA's Standards," Committee on Fluoride in Drinking Water, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council of the National Academies of Science. March 2006

2) "Fluoride foes get validation - Scientists: Substance less safe than presumed: more research needed," by Nick Budnick, March 24, 2005, Portland Tribune

4) "GUEST VIEW: The evidence that fluoride is harmful is overwhelming,"



7) The 2nd Citizens’ Conference on Fluoride: A Summary, Fluoride Action Network

8) "EPA Unions Call for Nationwide Moratorium on Fluoridation, Congressional Hearing on Adverse Effects, Youth Cancer Cover Up ," August 2005

New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc.
Paul Beeber, President and General Counsel
PO Box 263
Old Bethpage, NY 11804

Fluoridation News Releases

Tooth Decay Crises in Fluoridated Areas

Fluoride Action Network

At Mon Oct 02, 11:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about studies of people in communities where water has naturally occuring high levels of fluoride? Do they suffer the same problems?

At Tue Oct 03, 06:38:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Hey, NYSCOF: take this.


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