It is a scenario playing out nationwide. From Oregon to Pennsylvania, hundreds of communities have in recent years either stopped adding fluoride to their water supplies or voted to prevent its addition. Supporters of such bans argue that people should be given the freedom of choice. The broad availability of over-the-counter dental products containing the mineral makes it no longer necessary to add to public water supplies, they say. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that while store-bought products reduce tooth decay, the greatest protection comes when they are used in combination with water fluoridation.

The outcome of an ongoing federal case in California could force the Environmental Protection Agency to create a rule regulating or banning the use of fluoride in drinking water nationwide. In the meantime, the trend is raising alarm bells for public health researchers who worry that, much like vaccines, fluoride may have become a victim of its own success.

The CDC maintains that community water fluoridation is not only safe and effective but also yields significant cost savings in dental treatment. Public health officials say removing fluoride could be particularly harmful to low-income families — for whom drinking water may be the only source of preventive dental care.

“If you have to go out and get care on your own, it’s a whole different ballgame,” said Myron Allukian Jr., a dentist and past president of the American Public Health Association. Millions of people have lived with fluoridated water for years, “and we’ve had no major health problems,” he said. “It’s much easier to prevent a disease than to treat it.”

According to the anti-fluoride group Fluoride Action Network, since 2010, over 240 communities around the world have removed fluoride from their drinking water or decided not to add it.

  • @UnderpantsWeevil
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    52 months ago

    For some reason, they never came around on the Pro-Choice movement, though

    • @[email protected]
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      32 months ago

      If I want to prevent your abortion, that should be my choice. “My” being the operative word, they’re incredibly selfish. (Oh, and should the situation arise, “My abortion is the only justified abortion.”)

      • @UnderpantsWeevil
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        42 months ago

        “My abortion is the only justified abortion.”

        Practically a one-to-one correlation between pro-life politicians and pregnant sex workers forced to get abortions.

    • @[email protected]
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      32 months ago

      But that was choices for women, who Conservatives have been clear that they view as property.