No sparkly smiles for Denver’s anti-fluoride activists

photo credit: Steve Johnson, flickr, creative commons

Libertarians, anti-communists and holistic dentists alike have formed an unlikely team to take a gulp at one of Denver’s lesser chewed on policy issues: fluoride in the water.

On Tuesday, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners voted in favor of upholding Denver Water’s long-running practice of community water fluoridation, enriching the level of fluoride in public water to the U.S. Public Health Service’s recommended 0.7 milligrams per liter.

In response to the vote’s outcome, many have taken to the Internet to voice their concerns about the potential harms of public water fluoridation. While some are strictly concerned with the chemical’s medical implications, others view water fluoridation as an issue of ethics, freedom of choice or environmental protection — and a few have even worried that municipal water fluoridation is a government conspiracy.

This pushback followed a July 29 public forum held by the Denver Water Board, in which presentations were given both for and against fluoridation.

The Denver Board of Water Commissioners vote for fluoride mirrored a statement from Gov. John Hickenlooper in July, who came out strongly in support of community water fluoridation.

The Governor’s stance is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that fluoridation has been shown to reduce tooth decay by roughly 25 percent in both children and adults.

Similarly, a 2005 study cited by state dental director Katya Mauritson suggests that fluoridated water can reduce Colorado residents’ cavities by nearly 40 percent.

Much like the CDC, the United States Public Health Service has enthusiastically endorsed fluoridation of tap water since the 1950’s as a fair and affordable way to prevent tooth decay.

Several other organizations —  including the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and World Health Organization —  also recommend community water fluoridation, citing it as a cost-effective way to promote oral health.

“Community water fluoridation provides dental health benefits across all socioeconomic communities in a predictable and uniform manner”, said Denver Water Commissioner Penfield Tate, another proponent of fluoridated tap water, in a release.

However, skeptics of community water fluoridation continue to voice their fears: Organizations like the Fluoride Action Network and Fluoride Free Colorado oppose Denver Water’s practice insisting that community fluoridation is a medical, ethical and environmental problem.

Take Alan Green, champion of what he calls “holistic dentistry.” Green thinks individuals should get to choose what drugs go into their bodies. Like many who challenge Denver Water’s policy, Green is concerned with both the medical and ethical repercussions of community water fluoridation.

In addition to being positively linked with bone cancer, said Green, fluoride in community water poses an ethical conundrum: “Here you are, in a sense, putting a medicine in the tap water… There is no informed consent.”

Several communities throughout the state, including Montrose, Colorado Springs, Palisade, and Delta currently reject water fluoridation. Around 72 percent of municipal Coloradans receive water with either natural or added fluoride.

In the meantime, Denver Water is on track to continue the practice in light of Tuesday’s vote, and anti-fluoride activists in Denver will just have to grin and bear it.


  1. Let’s just for a minute say that we would all agree that fluoride IS beneficial, so that we don’t waste any more time arguing whether it is or not. The real issue is whether the government has the right to medicate our water – thereby forcing us to consume something which may or may not be desired by everyone. Vitamins are good for us too, so why not add vitamins to the water ? Vitamin use has been shown to be beneficial – we should all be drinking vitamin water. Actually there are a lot of additives and medications that help mankind – let’s add them all to the water …

    The point is, what I put in my body should be my choice and my choice alone. Maybe I don’t want vitamins in my water – maybe I get those some other way, through my diet or through supplements. If I want fluoride there are other ways to get it – don’t force me to consume it against my will.

    For those who have the means, they can filter all their water, but most people can not do this, and must consume public water supply water. It would be like adding air freshener to the air and then telling people who don’t like it to go out and buy air masks.

  2. Thankfully legitimate science prevailed over the fear-mongering and bias-science of fluoridation opponents (FOs) with the Denver Water Board Commissioners’ decision to continue fluoridation of Denver’s drinking water. The resolution the board adopted at its August 26, 2015 meeting stated: “Nothing has been presented to the Board or learned in our research that would justify ignoring the advice of these public health agencies and medical and community organizations, or deviating from the thoroughly researched and documented recommendation of the U.S. Public Health Service.”,…/WaterSafety/Fluoride/. That statement is important considering top FO spoksperson, Paul Connett, flew in to give a presentation at the July 29th information session.

    For those who are concerned about fluoridation because of all the complete falsehoods and twisted truths spread by FOs, I put together a web page,, to provide evidence in support of the safety and effectiveness of drinking water fluoridation that is conveniently missing from the FOs’ propaganda. Don’t buy into the fear without doing your own research. If there are not enough references to convince you the FOs are distorting the evidence, simply go to the entire body of published evidence at and do your own study of the research.

    It is very easy to discover where the FOs have distorted the evidence to create fear using studies where the actual conclusions are completely contrary to how they have been presented. The 2012 ‘Harvard IQ’ study by Choi, et al. and the 2015 Cochrane review of water fluoridation are excellent examples.

    Remember, as you examine the evidence, science is a process by which the scientific community reaches a consensus (a communal agreement) about specific issues that is based on a complete evaluation of all the evidence that’s available. The scientific consensus on community water fluoridation for over 70 years has been that it is a safe and effective process for reducing dental caries in a community. All of the so-called evidence used by FOs has been exhaustively analyzed and found to be insufficient to change the consensus.

    The only way FOs can promote their agenda is to try and convince the public that fluoridation is ineffective and harmful to health. And the only way that can be accomplished is to:
    (1) Reference poor quality research that has been dismissed by experts in the field,
    (2) Claim that known detrimental effects of exposure to high levels of fluoride automatically means low level exposure is also harmful,
    (3) Manipulate the conclusions of legitimate research to imply the practice of fluoridation is harmful.
    (4) Use fear instead of valid evidence to try and convince people the FOs’ position is valid.
    (5) Try and suggest that fluoridation is forced medication instead of a beneficial water treatment process – like chlorination and the addition of various other chemicals.
    (6) Try and discredit the respected science and healthcare professionals, and the highly respected science, healthcare, and regulatory organizations supporting fluoridation as being corrupt, inept, conspiracy laden, etc. It is ironic that FOs attempt to use the methods of science to justify their strongly held biases, but the only way that they can do that is to deny one of the key components of the scientific method – Consensus of the experts.

    Check the evidence for yourself. Fluoridation supporters are not hiding anything – you will see all the evidence (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and you will find a very significant majority of research supports the practice of fluoridation – and has for over 70 years. Dr. Steve Slott and others who contribute to these discussions provide point-by-point rebuttals to claims by the FOs, and you can verify each one of their statements by going to the original evidence.

    I understand David Walker’s concerns about government actions established that apply to a community rather than individuals. The phrase “whether the government has the right to ‘medicate’ or water”, however, immediately turns the discussion biased. If something has been proven to be beneficial for over 70 years (with minimal risks to individuals) why should there be such a strong reaction against it? Fluoridation, as Mr. Walker admitted, IS beneficial, and it is simply a natural ion found to a greater or lesser extent in water – like calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium, selenium, etc… There are lots of regulations (governmental and otherwise) that individuals might not agree with, like water treatment/disinfection, smoking bans, seat belt laws, not driving when drunk or texting, and so on. These regulations survive because they are beneficial to a great many individual with fewer risks than there would be without the regulations.

    Randy Johnson

  3. David, not ingesting fluoride is NOT beneficial.. it is harmful. Look at the WHO chart at the bottom of this page. Fluoridated and un-fluoridated countries have the same decrease in cavities over 40 years. Proof right there that drinking a bio-accumulative poison is not the reason for the decrease. That’s WHO data.

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