Community water fluoridation has recently been a popular topic of discussion in media and various communities. As a result, numerous claims, opinions and positions have been shared.
Unfortunately, some of these have been misleading, including those of a guest who appeared on CBC Calgary News report “Fluoride Fight”, on September 25, 2017. The guest suggested that fluoride is not safe and that community water fluoridation does not work.
We want to set the record straight.
The best evidence available shows us that community water fluoridation, at the levels recommended in Canada, is safe and does not pose risk of health effects.
The guest interviewed referenced a study that claims fluoride can have adverse health effects in children, lowering their IQ. What was not reported is that this particular study evaluates the effect of exposure to naturally occurring fluoride at concentrations higher than the levels regulated through community water fluoridation programs (which are the safe levels recommended for prevention of tooth decay). Community water fluoridation has been practiced safely in Canada for 70 years with no increase on the prevalence or incidence of any health condition observed to be caused by fluoride.
Research consistently shows that communities with water fluoridation at the recommended levels have better oral health than communities with low water fluoride levels, and that the greatest positive impact is realized by vulnerable individuals.
Foundational public health measures, such as community water fluoridation, seek to address inequities that impact the health of individuals, while simultaneously benefiting the health of the community as a whole. For many of Alberta’s underprivileged, oral health care services are simply inaccessible. Community water fluoridation, on the other hand, offers safe oral health protection that is accessible to the entire community. It has the greatest positive impact on individuals of lower socioeconomic status, by reducing inequalities, and the benefits of community water fluoridation are obtained without any change in behavior or personal habits of any population. It is effective throughout the entire life span.
Simply, community water fluoridation is the safest and most effective means of preventing tooth decay across any community, and for all citizens of that community.
Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services (AHS) recognize that community water fluoridation effectively prevents tooth decay, especially among people who are most vulnerable. It offers significant benefit with very low risk and reaches all residents who are connected to a municipal water supply. Based upon the weight of scientific evidence, and in alignment with Health Canada, both Alberta Health and AHS continue to support water fluoridation as an important public health measure, and a safe, effective means of reducing dental decay and improving oral health.