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Why spend so much to fluoridate Israel?

Dr. Hardy Limeback BSc PhD DDS Toronto Ontario Canada hardy.limeback@utoronto.ca

Letters to the Editor, Jerusalem Post. May 9, 2002

Dear Editors,

Judy Siegel's article entitled "Country set for fluoridation" (May 1, 2002) has mistakes of fact regarding water fluoridation. I wonder if the annual cost of fluoridating Israel, which was quoted as $45,000,000 is a misprint. The latest published data suggests that fluoridation may provide only up to 15% reduction in dental decay rates. With current low decay rates experienced by civilized countries throughout the world today, this translates into only a saving of one filling for every third or fourth person under 24 years of age (over two decades). Israel is projected to have about 3,000,000 in this age group by 2005 (data from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics). Therefore, it will cost nearly a billion US$ ($45,000,000 per yr. X 22 yr. = $990,000,000) to prevent approximately one million fillings over the next 22 years (about $1000 US per dental filling). If you factor in the cost of treating the dental fluorosis (mottling of the teeth) that will inevitably increase from introducing extra fluoride into the water, the cost of equipment maintenance and replacement (the chemicals used are toxic waste from the phosphate fertilizer industry), the cost of health care for fluoridation workers who are exposed to the chemicals, and the cost of clean up of accidental spills or fluoridation accidents (or, heaven forbid, terrorist activity that could lead to injection of too much of the toxic fluorides into the drinking water), Israel will be spending even hundreds more US$ for every filling that is supposedly saved. It would seem that Israel could spend the one billion US$ on other more important things, such as security to protect the nation against future terrorist attacks, including attacks on precious drinking and irrigation water supplies. Besides, why would a country so desperate for clean drinking water want to contaminate it with toxic waste from the US fertilizer industry?

Dr. Hardy Limeback BSc PhD DDS 
Head, Preventive Dentistry 
University of Toronto 
Toronto Canada 
01 416 979-4929-1-4461