Last year the Portland City Council–which we elected–considered a public health measure brought forth by a coalition of organizations, many of them representing public health interests and disadvantaged minorities. After examining the research thoroughly, (and I know they did because they cited it) city council did their job and made what they considered the best decision, based on their research and the scientific consensus. They voted unanimously in favor of fluoridation.
Portland–well I love this city. It’s a beautiful place but, let’s face it, we all know it’s full of hippie bullshit. So I wasn’t surprised when some people freaked out. City council was trying to secretly poison us! They “took away the voice of the people!” (Hello. Are you aware that we live in a representative democracy?) They’d sold us out, man!
Petitions were circulated successfully, garnering more than enough signatures to force a vote. I’m sure this guy was very happy.
So. Now that we’re voting on it, I’m going to vote yes, here’s why:
The opposition to public fluoridation uses weasel words like “clean”, and “chemicals”, and “poison” to make implications about fluoridation that aren’t applicable. Everything around us is a chemical, we synthesize chemicals in our bodies constantly. It’s a meaningless word in this context, but they know it scares people. That’s also why they use the world “barrels” to describe the “industrial waste” that’ll be “dumped” into our water. Well of course it’s in barrels. Why would you say that? Because it conjures images of dirty oil barrels and executives dry-rubbing their hands. We can find a way put it in easter baskets with pretty bows, but that might be more expensive. Why “dumped?” I mean, yeah. There’s gravity. We’re not going to fling or pitch it into the water, though I suppose we could. We could “pour” it, but that sounds like we’re making ourselves a cup of tea (btw, tea leaves have fluoride in them) Fluoride can be found in natural springs which are clean as can be. Word games, fear games–PR tricks.
The word, “clean” is being used in a manipulative manner which I find disturbing both in its disingenuousness and because it resonates other false concepts of purity I’ve heard in the past, like racial ‘purity’ or sexual ‘purity’.
THE OVERWHELMING SCIENTIFIC AND PUBLIC HEALTH CONSENSUS IN FAVOR OF FLUORIDATION
Public water fluoridation is endorsed by:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The National Academy of Sciences
The Institute of Medicine
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Council on Science and Health
The American Medical Association
The American Public Health Association
The World Health Organization
The California Department of Public Health
Multnomah County Health Department
The American Dental Association
National Cancer Institute
American Institute of Nutrition
American Society for Clinical Nutrition
The American School Health Association
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Science Based Medicine
The American Society of Dentistry for Children
The British Dental Association
The Canadian Dental Association
The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Canadian Nurses Association
Canadian Pediatric Society
Hispanic Dental Association
US Public Health Service
World Federation of Orthodontists
And, well… a hell of a lot more.
If you want to discount the massive consensus of scientists, medical doctors, dentists, dental workers, and public health officials in favor of fluoridation, you must either think they are all incompetent, or that they are conspiring against us. (To date, I can’t get an opponent of fluoridation who I’ve argued with to admit either. They don’t like to admit that they’re conspiracy theorists).
“I just want water in my water,” is not a good enough answer.
So there are plenty of people who won’t argue with that consensus but who just, “want water in their water.” They might think we shouldn’t “mess” with what I often hear antifluoridationists describe as, “our pristine Bull Run water, some of the best in the country,” it’s like they’ve suddenly been possessed by some kind of a commercial. When did people get all sparkly-eyed about the water? Sure. We have nice water, but pristine, it ain’t. There’s all kinds of crap in our water, thankfully in small amounts. There’s even some fluoride already. And we do mess with it. We put chlorine in it.
They keep trotting out That fucking “Harvard Study”
…that people keep using again and again was a metastudy (a study of an amassed amount of older research), with data mostly from China, where the lowest amount of fluoride in the water of the people sampled was 4.0ppm, and the higher end was much higher. Fluoride, like chlorine, sodium, sugar, or water, is dangerous at certain levels.
The deans of the medical research department at Harvard, who are MD’s, by the way, were so embarrassed at people twisting this study to make it look like they oppose fluoridation, that they took the trouble to make a public announcement stating quite clearly that they think fluoridation is a safe, effective public health measure.
Fluoridation would be beneficial for all of our teeth, but most especially for children, including poor children in unstable situations
Who is opposing fluoridation? Call me crazy, but five’ll get you ten that in Portland it’s mostly middle to upper class white people. It’s too bad that they can’t be bothered to actually learn how to read the scientific literature, but I suppose it is a hassle to get from your cozy office job to the acupuncturist, to 24 hour fitness and then stop to pick up some organic Kombucha at New Seasons before Mad Men is on–No time to stop and think about little poor children with their teeth rotting out of their fucking faces with no dental care who were denied a simple, safe public health measure that could have saved them from it.
I think about all the people I’ve seen sipping organic lattes at the local coffee shop cracking jokes about fluoridation, and reasoning that we should just, “Give the poor people toothpaste. Educate them. Teach them how to use a toothbrush.” (Yes. I actually did hear a guy say that.)
Maybe you, despite all the endorsements above are still unsure and you’re just unwilling to take the risk despite all that. There just might be a small risk and it’s just not worth it, you say to yourself. But, you know what, I think about that kid and the many others who aren’t as fortunate as you, I think about how an infected tooth is some of the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, and I think you’re a fucking coward.
I didn’t want to have to vote on this, but I will. So I’m voting yes today. And whatever the outcome. I know I’ve made the right choice for myself, my city, and my fellow citizens. I’ve made the choice to avoid knee-jerk dismissal, smarmy hippie pseudoscience, and willful ignorance of the needs and benefits. I’ve carefully weighed the information and made an informed decision like the adult I’m supposed to be. If you’re in Portland, I hope, whatever your choice, that you can say the same.