Northern Health Chief Medical Health Officer: Position Statement on Community Water Fluoridation
November 7, 2014
Water fluoridation is an important public health measure. By supplementing the naturally existing fluoride in water to an effective level of about 0 .7 part per million, it safely and effectively reduces the occurrence/development of tooth decay at low cost and while children are the chief beneficiaries, adults also benefit. These health benefits last a lifetime as consumption of water continues.
Water fluoridation provides a fair way to ensure that everyone is protected regardless of income, education, or financial ability to seek dental care. People benefiting the most from water fluoridation are those most susceptible to tooth decay. Typically these are the poorest and most disadvantaged members of our community. In Northern Health we perform approximately 1000 surgical procedures each year for dental extractions and restorations. About 75% of these are done on children under the age of 10 years. Adequately fluoridated water could prevent most of these but unfortunately many of our communities do not provide fluoride supplementation to their water supplies and increasingly, the efforts of “anti-flouridationists” have been successful in eroding public confidence in this safe and cost effective public health measure.
The world-wide evidence supporting water fluoridation is well-founded and continues to grow. Few other public health measures have been the subject of more intensive scientific review. Over fifty years of animal and human scientific studies have shown water fluoridation to be safe and effective.
The Canadian Dental Association, the American Dental Association, the World Health Organization the U.S. Public Health Service and its Centers for Disease Control, and the Fédération Dentaire Internationale, continue to monitor fluoride's effects. Periodic allegations of "new evidence" purporting to show the harmful effects of fluoridation do not withstand the test of objective, scientific scrutiny. In communities where fluoridation is discontinued, the rate of dental caries begins to climb almost immediately.
Northern Health includes in its Strategic Directions the commitment to “lead initiatives that improve the health of the people we serve.” The maintenance of adequate levels of fluoride in drinking water to prevent and reduce dental caries remains a public health best practice that we encourage communities to implement if they do not have it, and to maintain if they do.
Dr. Sandra Allison BSc MPH CCFP FRCPC
Chief Medical Health Officer