Understanding the Scientific Consensus that Fluoridation is a Safe and Effective Public Health Measure

Fluoridation opponents (and other anti-science activists) frequently state that there is no consensus among relevant scientists and health professionals that community water fluoridation (CWF) is a safe and effective public health measure.  They provide references to studies they claim prove fluoridation causes a number of serious health effects or provide quotes from scientists or health professionals alleging ineffectiveness or harm from drinking optimally fluoridated water as proof the scientific consensus does not support fluoridation.

For non-scientists trying to understand how to sort out facts from fiction in the fluoridation discussion it is important to understand the concept of scientific consensus.  For any complex scientific issue, whether it is related to health, geology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, electronics, climate, or any other scientific topic, there are hundreds to thousands of potentially relevant scientific studies which have been conducted over years to decades.  Those studies have been performed in an effort to understand specific aspects of the natural world, and, like all human endeavors, the studies will have various limitations that can impact the significance and quality of the conclusions drawn.  The scientific consensus "is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity." wikipedia  The scientific consensus is the best interpretation of the available scientific evidence at any given period of time, and it is subject to constant review and revision as new legitimate scientific evidence is discovered and presented.

It can be difficult for non-scientists to understand the concept of a scientific consensus since there is nothing remotely like it outside of the sciences.  In all other fields of human endeavor, philosophy, arts, religion, law, ethics, etc., there is no way to prove a belief or position is universally true in the same way scientists can

 

There are four significant pieces of evidence that confirm the scientific consensus that CWF is safe and effective:

  1. Major scientific reviews/studies over the past few years, described here, conclude that community water fluoridation is effective and/or safe and confirm the fact that the scientific consensus on fluoridation is not under dispute – except by a relative few professionals and a number of non-professionals who have believed them.
  2. Virtually all major science and health organizations worldwide publically recommend fluoridation as a safe and effective public health measure (many since the 50s and 60s).
    http://ilikemyteeth.org/fluoridation/why-fluoride/
    http://ada.org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoridation-facts-compendium
  3. The hundreds of thousands of members of those organizations have not rebelled.
  4. No such reputable science or health organizations support the anti-F opinions.

Additional resources for understanding the benefits and risks of drinking water fluoridation.

FOs apparently have no idea of what constitutes a scientific consensus, how to recognize one or even how to try and refute one.  

All FOs would have to do to support their claim that “there is no consensus fluoridation is safe or effective. There never has been” (Rick North, Lund Report Opinion)  is to list a majority of reputable science and health organizations that accept the anti-F opinions as legitimate. 

However the fact is, according to the most comprehensive list I have seen posted by FOs, support for their opinions consists of 6 alternative health organizations and about 10 environmental, marketing, spiritual and cultural organizations.
Groups and Organizations Publically Opposed to Fluoridation include:

  • INFOWARS, Alex Jones
  • Natural News, Mike Adams
  • AAEM: American Academy of Environmental Medicine
  • ICIM: International College of Integrative Medicine
  • IABDM: International Academy of Biological Dentists and Medicine
  • IAOMT: International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology
  • ICA: International Chiropractors Association
  • HDA: Holistic Dental Association
  • EWG: Environmental Working Group
  • CHEJ: Center for Health, Environment & Justice
  • Sierra Club: Environmentalists
  • OCA: Organic Consumers Association
  • FWW: Food & Water Watch
  • CAAP: Coalition of African American Pastors
  • LULAC: League of United Latin American Citizens
  • Mercola.com

 




Below are some critiques of a few high profile anti-fluoridation, anti-science individual supporters and groups. Obviously, if you accept the beliefs and positions of these individuals and organizations you will dismiss these critiques.  However, if you have any interest in understanding legitimate scientific and health positions based on an impartial evaluation of scientific evidence, it is worth examining the overall context of anti-science propaganda of all types as described below

Fluoride Action Network & Paul Connett, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation and other ant-F organizations and activists:

Mike Adams (the “Health Ranger”) and Natural News:

Alex Jones and Infowars:

Joseph Mercola and his alternative health empire:

Additional References and highlights of tactics used by fluoridation opponents: