EXCERPT FROM JULY, 1963
IN YOUR TEETH
If you are aged about 50, there
is a good chance that you have much better teeth than your parents did. That
is because, about 1963, the various authorities started to fluoridate the water supplies to towns and cities, and thus delivered
a small trace of fluoride on a regular basis into the bodies of children. While
almost everyone now recognises that as a good thing, back then the matter was controversial.
The whole idea of doing this came,
not from trials on rats and the like, but from observations. In regions that had high natural fluoridation of the drinking
water, the people there had better teeth. In Australia, a few local Councils,
in country areas in each State, had earlier added the powder to their water, but to get a clear result would take a full generation. Thus, there was little to be learned from them at this time. Skip forward a few scientists, and you come to the stage in 1963 where Sydney was proposing to pep up
their water in this way.
The trouble was that when the members
of the Water Board met, they decided against doing this. Their decision came
as a bombshell. Many scientific and medical arguments had been advanced in favour of doing it, and there were few organised groups opposing it. For a while, it was hard to fathom out why the individual members voted against it, but in a few days
the nay-sayers in the public came out in the Press, and voiced their doubts. The
battle, for and against, was joined. I include a very mixed bag of their opinions
W A Dowe, Director, Australian School of Social Science. People should
be free to neglect their health, or even to injure their health, if they so insist.
Possibly Mr Sheahan does not propose to take measures to suppress smoking, drinking alcohol, or over-eating.
The existence of a totalitarian Government which insists on the forcible stamping out of evil would be a far worse
disaster than even serious tooth decay. There are ways of voluntarily acquiring
the benefits of fluoridation, in a free community, but the means to restore human rights when they are violated are very costly
Keith Smith, Mosman. While many people opposing fluoride, like W Dowe,
are theorising, the teeth of thousands of children in this State are going rotten, largely through parental neglect.
During the past 13 years I have met more than 500,000 Australian children in connection with my radio programs. This had made me something of an expert in a very narrow field. Looking back, my main impression of the Australian child is not one of liveliness, wit or physique, but
of a deplorable dental state in which schoolteachers and parents had little real interest.
Recently, it was my pleasure to talk with children in Yass who have been subject to fluoridation for nearly seven
years. Yass dentists claimed they had the best teeth in New South Wales; it was apparent to me that their teeth looked better
than any other group I had seen in Australia.
I am sure Mr Dowe would not condone the thrashing of a child by a brutal parent because it infringed on the parent’s
“human right.” Neither should he confuse the practical protection
of children’s teeth with the theoretical “rights” of adults, many of whom don’t care what happens
to children’s teeth, anyway.
Margaret Gale, Redfern. With the growing number of experts concerned
for the welfare of myself and my family, the day seems not far distant when freedom of choice will be blocked entirely. This seems of far graver concern than the preservation of teeth.
Is it or is it not true that in America the incidence of dental decay dropped noticeably after a 12-month trial
of fluoridation, but that after five years the “experts” were wondering whether there was some connection between
fluoridation and bone malformation?
At what point are the “experts” absolutely sure? Thalidomide
is too recent a hurt to give one iota of attention to what
the experts think.
R Frenkel, Lindfield. Thirdly and finally, the phrase “compulsory
medication” seems to have aroused much hypocrisy. When one bears in mind
that fluoridated water would taste, smell and look no different from untreated water, and that its effects would be revealed
only gradually among those now young enough to benefit, and not at all among those too old, and that in 50 years sound teeth
would be taken for granted like the air one breathed, then I confess I see little that is totalitarian in this picture.
Try as I might, I cannot look on unavoidable physical health with any horror whatsoever.
E Dark, Katoomba. In a fluoridated water supply there could be no uniform
dosage, as the man doing hard work in a hot climate would inevitably absorb a very great deal more of the drug than the sedentary
person in a cold climate. That fact would seem to condemn fluoridation as an
unscientific way of giving the drug when an accurately calculated dose could be given in tablet form.
The protagonists of fluoridation refuse to admit the practicability of this alternative method, claiming without
a jot of evidence that mothers would be too careless to give it; but my experience is that the modern mother is most concerned
for the welfare of her child, as evidenced by the very high proportion that are immunised.
Why should not the same result be obtained with an intelligent campaign to educate parents to give fluoride to children
of an age to benefit by it?
Another point that has been ignored is that with the proposed fluoridation of water supplies about 5 per cent of
children will suffer from a brown mottling of the teeth, for which disfigurement there is no remedy.
The time during which artificial fluoridation has been tried is far too short to justify the dogmatic statement
that no eventual ill effects can be caused; in animal experiments with continued minute doses of mildly toxic substances,
it has been found that in some cases the ill effects are not apparent until the second generation.
There is also the moral point, which has been far too lightly brushed aside – that no man should be compelled
against his will to take a substance which he believes may be harmful if he has to absorb it during his whole lifetime.