Here are five key facts about water fluoridation - and why this public health measure matters to the city, to you and to your neighbours.

Point 1: Dental decay affects the majority of children and teens.

Dental decay is the most common chronic disease of children and teens. Dental decay is five times more common than asthma, four times more common than obesity, and 20 times more common than juvenile diabetes.(1) 

Each weekday, one surgical suite at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary is dedicated to the treatment of dental decay under general anaesthetic.  General anaesthetic has its own risks for children and youth.

 

Point 2: Dental decay can cause children to have poor overall health.

Untreated dental decay in children is associated with poor overall growth, iron deficiency, protein deficiency, behaviour problems, low self-esteem, a reduction in school attendance and performance, and poor overall health.(2-8)

 

Point 3: Calgary’s children have had significant increases in dental decay since community water fluoridation was ceased.

A University of Calgary study led by Dr. L. McLaren showed that the decay rate of the teeth of Grade 2 children in Calgary was significantly higher after the cessation of water fluoridation than was the decay rate of Grade 2 children in Edmonton where fluoridation continued. 

The number of decayed, extracted, filled surfaces of baby teeth (defs scores) in Calgary increased 146% by rising from 2.6 to 6.4 after fluoride cessation. 

In Edmonton, where fluoridation continued, the defs scores increased by only 46%, rising from 4.5 to 6.6.(9)

 

Point 4: Community water fluoridation is effective.

Community water fluoridation is effective at reducing dental decay. 

This fact has been demonstrated repeatedly over the more than 75 year history of fluoridation, including in by the independent, Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) in its Health Technology Assessment (HTA) on community water fluoridation.(10)

CADTH’s HTA showed that community water fluoridation is effective in increasing the proportion of caries-free primary teeth in children and caries-free permanent teeth in children and adults.(10)

Reduced tooth decay is seen independently of other fluoride exposures (through delivery agents such as fluoridated toothpastes).(10) In other words, community water fluoridation further reduces decay in children even if those children already use fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses.

 

Point 5: Community water fluoridation is safe.

Although some people say that fluoridation is harmful, there is no good evidence of harm.(10) Fluoridation opponents have raised many arguments against fluoridation.  But CADTH concluded that there is consistent evidence for no association between water fluoridation at the current Canadian levels and the incidence of bone cancer, total cancer and cancer-related mortality, and hip fracture.(10) 

There is limited evidence for no association between water fluoridation at the current Canadian levels and Down syndrome, and IQ and cognitive function.(10) 

There is insufficient evidence for an association between water fluoridation at the current Canadian levels and all-cause mortality, atherosclerosis, hypertension, skeletal fluorosis, osteoporosis, musculoskeletal pain, newborn’s height and weight, thyroid function, CKD, gastric discomfort, headache, insomnia, reproductive outcomes, refractive errors, diabetes, and myocardial infarction.(10)

You know the facts, you know the science, and you know that Calgary needs to bring back fluoride.

 

Now what?

Please consider participating in our campaign in one of the following ways:

 


References:

  1. Health Canada. Report on the findings of the oral health component of the Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007-2009. Ottawa (ON): Government of Canada; 2010: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2010/sc-hc/H34-221-2010-eng.pdf 
  2. Locker D, Matear D. Oral disorders, systemic health, well-being and the quality of life: a summary of recent research evidence. Toronto (ON): University of Toronto; 2000. 
  3. Low W, Tan S, Schwartz S. The effect of severe caries on the quality of life in young children. Pediatr Dent. 1999;21(6):325-326.
  4. Ayhan H, Suskan E, Yildirim S. The effect of nursing or rampant caries on height, body weight and head circumference. J Clin Pediatr Dent. 1996;20(3):209-212. 
  5. Jackson SL, Vann WF, Jr., Kotch JB, Pahel BT, Lee JY. Impact of poor oral health on children's school attendance and performance. Am J Public Health. 2011;101(10):1900-1906. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222359. Accessed 2017 Oct 31. 
  6. Gift HC, Reisine ST, Larach DC. The social impact of dental problems and visits. Am J Public Health. 1992;82(12):1663-1668. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1694558. Accessed 2017 Oct 31. 
  7. Clarke M, Locker D, Berall G, Pencharz P, Kenny DJ, Judd P. Malnourishment in a population of young children with severe early childhood caries. Pediatr Dent. 2006;28(3):254-259. 
  8. Blumenshine SL, Vann WF Jr, Gizlice Z, Lee JY. Children’s school performance: impact of general and oral health. J Public Health Dent. 2008;68(2):82–87
  9. McLaren L, Patterson S, Thawer S, et al. Measuring the short-term impact of fluoridation cessation on dental caries in Grade 2 children using tooth surface indices. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2016;44(3):274-82.
  10. Community Water Fluoridation Programs: A Health Technology Assessment — Review of Dental Caries and Other Health Outcomes. Ottawa: CADTH; 2019 Feb. (CADTH technology review; no. 12).