A debate that has caused substantial discussion around the world concerns the practice of water fluoridation – which involves fluoride being added to the public water supply.
This practice is done with the intention of improving dental health – which appears to have a very positive effect. However many disagree with the practice, and suggest it is unneeded and unethical.
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Water fluoridation involves adding the natural mineral fluoride to the public water supply. It has been heralded as one of the biggest public health advancements, and has coincided with improved dental health in recent decades.
Fluoride is only added in small concentrations to the public water supply – something that has been practiced since the mid-1940s. Many countries use fluoride in water.
However, some suggest that water fluoridation is unethical, or pointless. There is also the chance that water fluoridation can cause fluoride toxicity or fluorosis – a condition that results in dark marks appearing on the teeth.
Arguments For Water Fluoridation
There are several arguments that support the use of water fluoridation:
- The evidence is clear, water fluoridation does improve dental health, especially for children. The addition of fluoride to the public water supply has been hailed as one of the best public health advancements in recent decades. Dental health is far better now than in the past.
- Fluoride is a natural mineral, and is not man-made. As it is natural, it could be argued that adding it to water is perfectly acceptable and natural.
- Adding fluoride to water does not change the appearance, nor taste of water, and it still offers the same benefits.
- In an age where sugar intake is incredibly high, fluoride adds an extra layer of protection to teeth, and is therefore useful for protection from calorific and sugary foods and drinks.
- Fluoride, when added in small concentrations, it safe and effective. Fluoride is a well-researched mineral, and despite claims to the contrary, is a safe mineral.
- Governments have a duty of care to their citizens. As part of this duty of care, they need to provide the best healthcare possible – hence why water fluoridation is used by many governments.
- Dentistry is an expensive service, meaning that as water fluoridation improves dental health, that it can save consumers money, and lessen their chances of having to visit the dentist. This is especially helpful for those who have a low-household income.
Arguments Against Water Fluoridation
Despite the above arguments, there are also some arguments that are against the use of water fluoridation.
- It has been argued that water fluoridation is ethically wrong – as no one has the chance to explicitly consent to fluoride being added to their water supply.
- Improvements in dental health in children have been noticed as a result of water fluoridation, however, there is limited evidence to suggest that adults benefit in the same way.
- It is possible to have too much fluoride, which can be toxic in high doses. Too much fluoride can also cause fluorosis – which is a condition that involves dark marks appearing on the teeth, which can be affect confidence and self-esteem.
- Water fluoridation is a costly process, and it could be argued that the financial cost of water fluoridation is not financially worthwhile when considering the benefits it causes.
- There have been suggestions for many years that fluoride can impede brain development in youth. While there isn’t a clear consensus on this theory, fluoride is a mineral that clearly does have an effect on our health, including our brains.
- Fluoride can be harmful to pets and wildlife. Fluoride exposure can have different impacts on animals, depending on each individual type. But like in humans, too much fluoride can be harmful for them.
- Fluoride can be found in toothpaste, mouthwash and other dental products. It could be argued that there is no need for extra fluoride, as we already use fluoride-based pastes on our teeth.
As seen, water fluoridation is a topic that provokes a lot of discussion. While water fluoridation had been popular for several decades, there has recently been a shift in attitude for many countries and activists.
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