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Pinellas County hosts latest skirmish in Floridian fluoride feud

Mar 22, 2012

To fluoridate or not to fluoridate has been a contentious question between public health officials and environmentalists for 65 years.

Fluoride is a natural mineral found in many foods and water.  It helps prevent tooth decay by assisting teeth to resist acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. In children under six years of age, fluoride blends into the development of permanent teeth, making it harder for acids to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also reverses early decay by helping speed remineralization and disrupts acid production in the erupted teeth of both children and adults.

In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan was the world’s first city to adjust the level of fluoride in its water supply to improve the dental health of its residents. Studies conducted since then have consistently shown that fluoridation of community water supplies is safe and effective in preventing dental decay in children and adults. Analysts estimate that fluoridating the water supply has reduced tooth decay for Americans by 20 to 40 percent.

Today, approximately 72.4% of American residents receive fluoridation’s cavity protection by drinking water from public water systems, improving the oral health of tens of millions of Americans.

But not everyone agrees on the benefits of fluoridation. Fluoridation opponents argue that because the consumption of fluoride can’t be effectively monitored, many Americans absorb too much fluoride and that can lead to detrimental health issues like fluorosis (white specks or streaks in tooth enamel or brown discoloration of teeth), bone degeneration and other serious health issues.

In October, 2011, Pinellas County, Florida (Tampa Bay) became the largest and latest Floridian county to abandon the fluoridation of their public drinking water. Four of seven county commissioners overturned the county’s initial decision in 2004 to fluoridate their drinking water, arguing that government should not make the decision for all citizens.

One county commissioner frustrated by the arguments between fluoridation’s supporters and detractors said he had doctors on both sides calling doctors on the other side “nuts.”

Fluoridation opponents stress that fluoride is a toxin, is still used as a primary ingredient used to kill rats and argue vehemently that ingesting too much fluoride is harmful.

 But dozens of prominent groups, including the American Dental AssociationAmerican Medical Association and the World Health Organization, argue just as vehemently that fluoridation prevents tooth decay if used in optimal amounts. Also, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proclaimed community water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

The crux of the disagreement concerns the amount of fluoride exposure people have in their water supplies. Because it is impossible to regulate the personal use of tap water, opponents say many Americans suffer from an overexposure to fluoride through drinking and cooking and that can cause serious health problems. 

 “Don’t confuse the issue. Don’t confuse nuclear power with a nuclear bomb, “says Dr. Jonathan J. Bromboz, DDS, a holistic dentist and staunch fluoridation opponent.  “Don’t confuse fluoride used in a dental office and in toothpaste with fluoride in the water supply. This (water fluoridation) is the bad guy.”

But Florida Dental Association spokesperson Dr. Johnny Johnson disagrees and says fluoride is no more poisonous than Coumadin, a widely prevalent blood thinner whose main ingredient is also used to kill rats.  Proponents of fluoride admit openly its not uncommon for biologically active compounds to have a variety of uses.

“Anything in gross amounts can be harmful to you, can be neurotoxins and can be deadly to you – but in the right amounts, beneficial.”

Meantime, the Floridian feud continues. Despite Pinellas County’s decision to discontinue fluoridation, in late January the city of Pinellas voted to add fluoride into the city’s water supply.

Time will tell which side in this debate is right and which one is all washed up. 

Sources:, American Dental Association,, WebMD

Copyright 2012, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC ©

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