Monday, January 10, 2011

Rat Poison Re-Run

I see in the news that fluoride is under attack again by religious and environmental wackos (I assume), so let me set you straight.  My chemistry degree concentrated on inorganic chemistry, particularly fluoride chemistry (to the extent that I even instigated a very impressive but minor explosion one day trying to synthesize a fluoride compound in a fume hood - sorry about the broken glass, Dr. Hepler).  And as a retired dentist I have seen both the positive and negative effects of fluoride in the human dentition.  (I happened to set up shop in a very lucky community whose only long-serving dentist had early in the 1950's persuaded the local town fathers to add fluoride to the water supply, resulting in an unusually low caries incidence among those of the local population who took the slightest interest in their oral hygiene and diet.  Of course, the same did not hold true for rural residents and their children, my bread and butter.)  Fluoride below 1 ppm has been proven overwhelmingly to strengthen the enamel, prevent osteoporosis and hearing loss, and generally enhance bone strength throughout the body.  Fluoride much above that level can lead to fluorosis - not a problem for bones, but often resulting in stained, but decay-resistant teeth.  (Tea is high in fluoride which is - dangerous territory this - generally the reason elderly Brits have more unsightly, but less carious, teeth than North Americans of the same age.)  Generations of children, adults and seniors have benefited from fluoride in our water supplies as a public health measure - and one of the most cost-effective at that.  So don't believe the bullshit folks, up to 1 ppm of fluoride in your water does nothing to harm you and everything to help you throughout your whole body and your whole life.