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Lessons on fluoride

Dr. Bill Osmunson (“Fluoridated water poses serious risks,” Sept. 22) apparently missed an important lesson during his dental and public health education: i.e., association does not signify cause.

The Fluoride Action Network, to which Dr. Osmunson is a senior adviser, is an organization dedicated to frightening communities out of undertaking a safe, efficient and equitable public health intervention to improve oral health. The intervention is fluoridation of community water systems that has been practiced in the United States for 75 years and now reaches more than 70% of the population.

Oral health has improved during that time, but not everyone has equal access to the dental services and other health benefits that contribute to the improvement. Fluoridated water is available to everyone in communities that provide it. Its safety and effectiveness (dental cavities are reduced by about 25%) are well studied by the many reputable science and research organizations that promote community water fluoridation.

As a public health physician, one of the first things I do when I evaluate a research study is look at its source. “Science” by advocates tends to get dubious scrutiny.

Kim Marie Thorburn, MD, MPH


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