A recently published Canadian study found that removing fluoride from the city’s water is the culprit in increased tooth decay among children.
The study looked at 2nd graders from Edmonton and Calgary. Edmonton has fluoride in its water, while Calgary does not. Lindsey McLaren of the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, the study’s leader, said that both municipalities had increased cavities among children, but “it got worse in Calgary, where fluoridation was stopped…”
McLaren says that she took great pains to rule out other factors that could be causing the effects she saw in her findings:
“We designed the study so we could be as sure as possible that [the increased tooth decay] was due to [fluoride] cessation rather than due to other factors.”
“We systematically considered a number of other factors … and in the end, everything pointed to fluoridation cessation being the most important factor.”
The regulation of Canada’s drinking water is quite different from the way it is done here in the United States. Here is an explanation of that from CBC Canada:
Health Canada notes that provincial and territorial governments regulate the quality of drinking water in their jurisdictions, with the fluoridation of drinking water supplies decided by each municipality, in collaboration with the province or territory and possibly in consultation with residents.
Denise Kokaram, who works with the Alex Dental Health Bus, touts fluoride as the least expensive option for preventing dental disease in children, especially in communities that lack ability to get quality dental care for children.
“It’s not unusual for us to see a child with almost full-mouth decay in the population that we’re looking at, and considering that we’re in Calgary, we shouldn’t be seeing that degree of disease here and we are.”
“And to think of that rising, and those children suffering and in even more pain, when it’s such an easy thing to remedy to remedy or at least assist with.”
According to Kokaram, nearly half of the kids her Alex Bus service saw last year had decaying teeth. Megan Heck, of the Calgary Dental Assistants Association, has found similar issues in the dental practice where she works.
“We’re definitely busy with the kids, and what we’re seeing is that kids who get cavities, if they don’t come in frequently to the offices, we don’t catch them soon enough, so without fluoridation the cavities get larger really quickly.”
The reasons for the fluoride removal were many and varied, from economical to health concerns disseminated by anti-fluoride crusaders. No matter the reasons, though, it seems that the removal of fluoride from the drinking water has had a profoundly negative effect on the dental health of Calgary’s children.