Experts stress new guidance raises no concerns about community water fluoridation

March 19, 2007
Guidance offers advice for parents, guardians and caregivers who rely exclusively on powdered infant and liquid concentrate formula as the primary nutritional source for babies less than a year old.

SACRAMENTO, California--A group of leading experts on the benefits of community water fluoridation announced today their unconditional support for the distribution of new guidance issued by the American Dental Association last November concerning the use of fluoridated water with powdered and liquid
concentrate infant formula.

The new guidance offers simple advice relevant only to parents, guardians and caregivers who rely exclusively on powdered infant and liquid concentrate formula as the primary nutritional source for babies less than a year old.

The guidance makes clear that babies who are breast fed or given ready-to-feed formula are unaffected, while those who rely on powdered or liquid concentrate formula should consider either switching to ready-to-feed formula, or use bottled water instead of tap water to reconstitute their powdered or liquid
concentrate formula.

The ADA's guidance aims only to minimize the relatively small risk of developing enamel fluorosis, a slight staining of the teeth that is usually mild and often unnoticeable. After consulting with their dentist or physician, some parents may even consider that the caries prevention benefit is more important than the risk of fluorosis.

"The guidance is well developed, precise in its wording and instruction, and extremely limited in scope," said Howard Pollick, a member of the California Fluoridation Advisory Council and a University of California, San Francisco clinical professor from the School of Dentistry. "It raises zero concerns or questions about the safety or desirability of employing community water fluoridation to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay."

Dr. Pollick and his advisory council colleagues caution the public and those involved in health policy not to fall prey to "several mischaracterizations" about the guidance recently distributed via the Internet and other channels by groups fundamentally opposed to community water fluoridation.

"I would urge members of the public to pay attention to the source, and think critically about the agenda of some of the groups expressing undue alarm over the ADA guidance," said Dr. Pollick. "Some would have you believe that a public warning on this matter has been issued, and that the ADA is now saying that fluoridation poses a danger to children, which is flat out wrong. The public should know that both the dental professional community and the scientific
community continue to support fluoridation based on an overwhelming
number of juried scientific studies and reviews."

Tim Collins, DDS, chair of the California Fluoridation Advisory Council, notes there will be no confusion about what the ADA guidance means if policy makers and the public at large simply read the ADA guidance themselves go to: ADA and not rely on someone else's interpretation of it.

"The guidance makes clear that even among the very few to whom the guidance is directed, the occasional use of optimally fluoridated water does not appreciably increase the risk of fluorosis, which in itself is a very minor cosmetic condition. The guidance quite explicitly states the ADA's unconditional, continued support for community water fluoridation as a safe and effective public health measure."