In the uncut version of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST Jason Robards plays a notorious outlaw. He is captured and while awaiting transfer to another location, a story writer stands outside the cell bars looking for an exclusive bit of inner thinking from a killer.
The writer asks, (something like this) “If you could do one thing better what would it be?” Robards mulls it over as the camera builds the intensity of his impending response. He says with regretful understanding, “I would have taken better care of my teeth.”
My first day in Cuenca, Ecuador, I had lunch overlooking the city. A husband and wife and older daughter shared the table next to me. In our impromptu conversation the father, a U.S. dentist railed on the evils of fluoride. He said that fluoride was a poison, plain and simple. He explained that the fluorine industry made millions using fluoride, a throw away by product of the fluorine industry. His daughter practiced law and chimed in on the various suits she had involvement with attacking the unnecessary premature death and suffering of Americans.
The father went a step further and said that in order to be accepted into a dental school in the U.S., one had to sign a form essentially stating the prospective student would not make claims against fluoride or the fluoride industry
The family explained how they use baking soda and this black toothpaste from Russia. They had a package on hand. (They were in the process of opening a market for this product). I noticed the family did not use any sugar in their coffee and they ate food that contained no sugar. These people possessed a serious commitment to good health and good teeth.
The tag team conspiracy theorists struck a nerve in a gene I call, “those bastards” gene. Some call it the underdog gene. You know the urge to root for the team that doesn’t have a chance. I saw the fluoride magnates laughing as they took their garbage and sold it to greedy city politicians. I was an underdog.
A short while later I met a U.S. dentist practicing in Cuenca. He did not try to change my opinion. Rather he calmly stated the research in developing countries (this is another topic ) that allowed children to keep their teeth simply by adding fluoride to the water. He added there was no change in disease or death rates except people fared better with teeth. He took it a step further, talking in my language of statistics, and explained the numbers.
I find that I have a tendency to employ the “recency” effect. Whoever spoke to me last makes the most sense. I have found that some people are very good speakers, “conmen” if you will and use their education as a launch pad for their attempt to sway your opinion.
The first question I asked myself, “What did each party have to gain by convincing me of the use of fluoride. The movie JERRY McGUIRE has the line “show me the money.” That helped tilt my opinion.
I often brush my teeth with activated charcoal because years of baseball bad hops have put hairline fractures in my teeth that bleaching (now that’s a poison) would destroy my enamel covering. But after the charcoal brushing I brushed my teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
So off to the web to research the topic I went. I decided to balance the articles with pro’s and con’s. That didn’t work because there were so few cons. In fact, in peer reviewed journals, there was not one article against fluoride. Rants from Mrs. Jones, that her child contracted autism because of fluoride water, were common, but nothing of fact.
The research into the possible effects of long term fluoride use became the only concern. No doubt if you look at parts per million (PPM), and you ingested too much, one would cause damage. However, the amount of fluoride in the water is monitored to prevent a PPM intrusion. In some areas, fluoride in the water is naturally elevated and steps are taken to reduce the PPM.
I remember a cartoon of a bunch of fat rats who were burying their family members who overdosed on artificial sweeteners. There were mountains of empty wrappers the contents of which they consumed. I got the point (didn’t agree but it was a cute ad). In fact I felt if you understood the cartoon you also saw the ad homonym or rhetoric in their suggestion.
So I believe, based on reading scientific reports and studies, that using fluoride in the water as well as in toothpaste is not only safe, but beneficial. Trusting local government officials to follow safe procedures is another matter (a later topic).
So when your neighbor or local internet browser expert says that fluoride is bad for you or that there is a financial conspiracy, simply ask what is the PPM count that would satisfy his concerns. The response will prevent an argument and you will know that your teeth are safe until the next soiree.