This week we dive into another scientific controversy: fluoridated drinking water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers it one of the 10great public health achievements of the 20th century, and yet others decry it as an attempt by the government to poison us (a conspiracy theory mocked in the movie Dr. Strangelove). What’s the truth? A recent research paper from Sweden tries to get to the bottom of this.
The benefit of fluoridation is in its well-documented ability to strengthen tooth enamel and this prevent tooth decay and cavities — also the reason why fluoride is added to toothpaste. The downside is that in large enough concentrations fluoride can impair cognitive development or, in the extreme, be lethal. The question is really whether a dose that is large enough to improve dental health is small enough to avoid the negative effects.Continue reading Weekend Reads: Fluoride is the Word