Distorting the CDC's conclusion

By the CDHP team

People are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts — especially when the consequences could be more tooth decay and dental pain. It's troubling that a false "fact" about fluoride appeared yesterday in the letters section of an Indiana newspaper.

The letter, written by Carol Kopf (an official at an anti-fluoride group called the Fluoride Action Network), calls it "a fallacy that fluoridation has reduced tooth decay" and adds this assertion: "The CDC reports fluoride hardens outer tooth enamel by topical means alone."

Not so. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

"Water fluoridation prevents tooth decay mainly by providing teeth with frequent contact with low levels of fluoride throughout each day and throughout life. Even today, with other available sources of fluoride, studies show that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by about 25 percent over a person's lifetime.  ... This method of fluoride delivery benefits all people ― regardless of age, income, education, or socioeconomic status."

Few readers are likely to visit a federal agency's website to vet what someone is willing to write in a letter. But public health issues may require us to take that extra step. The next time you hear someone assert what a health agency says, it wouldn't hurt to confirm whether it's true or false.

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children ages 6-12 suffered a toothache in the previous six months.
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