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

Fluoridation opponents (FOs) 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 quote opinions from scientists or health professionals who disagree with the consensus alleging ineffectiveness or harm from drinking optimally fluoridated water as proof the scientific consensus does not support fluoridation.

It is critical for non-scientists trying to understand how to sort out facts from fiction in the fluoridation discussion 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.  The scientific consensus

It can be very 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 NotScience fields of human endeavor, philosophy, arts, religion, law, ethics, etc., a consensus of opinions is justified entirely on personal beliefs   there is no way to prove a belief or moral position is true in the same way scientists can demonstrate a cause and effect relationship in the natural world.  Since anti-science activists do not have legitimate scientific evidence dismiss the idea of a scientific consensus argue that their interpretation of the scientific evidence is a 

 

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).
    These organizations include: The World Health Organization which represents 191 countries, the British Dental Association (around 22,000 members), the British Medical Association (over 156,000 members), the Irish Dental Association (over 1,800 members), the American Dental Association (over 114,000 members), the American Medical Association (over 200,000 members), the American Academy of Pediatrics (around 64,000 members), the Canadian Dental Association (over 16,000 members), the Canadian Medical Association (80,000 members), The Australian Dental Association (over 11,000 members), the Australian Medical Association (over 28,000 members), the New Zealand Dental Association (2,026 members), and around 100 other organizations and their members.
    http://ilikemyteeth.org/fluoridation/why-fluoride/
  3. The hundreds of thousands of members of those organizations have not rebelled.  FOs have provided no rational explanations for why, if the "evidence" they claim proves CWF is ineffective and harmful, a significant number of members of the organizations
  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 11 advocacy, 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
  • Children's Health Defense: Anti-vaccination organization, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr
  • 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: "Alternative Health" products



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: