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Overreacting over fluoride in drinking water

Editor’s note: The following letter is in response to Brad Onsgard’s letter that appeared in The Aspen Times on Saturday, March 19.

Dear Editor:



Brad, you know I love you, man, and appreciate all the things you did for Aspen’s kids for so long. And you know that I’ve been helping kids all over this valley trying to keep them from the pain of dental decay, infection, and lost dentition for over 31 years.

Because you’re an intelligent and educated man, I expect you to know the difference between anecdotal observations and real research. Anecdotal observations are these groundless opinions published in questionable journals and online that make absurd allegations about fluoride that are unfounded by any actual research and only needlessly alarm caring people. These are stories like, “My Aunt Sylvia has a friend who switched toothpaste and her cerebral palsy went away.” I have looked at these reports endlessly over the last 40 years and have never seen any accusations about side effects from fluoride in the water substantiated by any decent study.




Real research involves a large sample of people over a long stretch of time with a control group of similar people. I’ve certainly seen many things in my practice over all these years, but again, one dental practice does not make a good study. Probably the best example is the Southwestern United States where the whole idea of adding fluoride to water was discovered. Here we have generations of people on natural well water, with hundreds of times the concentration of fluoride than that recommended as necessary to prevent tooth decay, living lifetimes with absolutely no difference in their health to neighboring communities without fluoride in the water.

Talk about a perfect long-term study! The only difference is that the communities without fluoride have a whole lot more dental decay. Here in our own valley we have Glenwood Springs, which has more than 20 years of adding fluoride to their water with no difference in the occurrence of diseases you mention from the neighboring towns. Smaller sample, yes, but the same results. No evidence of the “innumerable side effects.”

I’m sure your intentions are good but your facts are unsubstantiated opinions. “… no disease is linked to fluoride deficiency.” Except for dental disease that is. How fluoride was discovered was when the Public Health Service was started, surveys showed large areas of the Southwest without any dentists. They rushed to put dental clinics there and found out that there weren’t any dentists because there wasn’t any dental decay. I just heard a very good presentation from the children’s dentists in Glenwood that certainly you can do supplements at home but that it’s not nearly as effective against decay as when it’s in the water.

I would be very surprised if Aspen’s water district was buying fluoride to put in our water from Chinese waste products. If so, why? There’s plenty of naturally occurring fluoride available in this country for them to acquire. As they reported to the Aspen City Council, it’s even naturally in our own water here in small concentrations. When you say about the supposed “side effects” that “some is speculation” and “my resources may not be 100 percent accurate on all this,” I say, “Well, at least you got that right.”

Herschel Ross DDS

Snowmass Village


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