We have had fluoride in our drinking water since 1954, and it is without doubt the most effective way to protect growing teeth against caries. But it's been more than 50 years, and we are now no more a backward rural third world community with poor dental hygiene. Do we still need that paternalistic hand of protection shovellings fluoride down our throats?
It just made me wonder about what the ethical issues are with respect to governments forcing public health prophylaxis upon citizens. De we have a choice or say in the matter?
No doubt the government has a responsibility to impose public health measures on the population for the public good. I can think of compulsory seat belt laws, or crash helmet laws.... but then these are to protect against serious potentially fatal risks. Compulsory vaccinations at birth.... but these may be defended because they protect the vaccinated and people around them against serious diseases.
Fluoridation does not much more than protect against dental cavities.... an almost trivial concern by comparison. Plus, there are alternative ways to protect the teeth.... good hygiene, fluoride in toothpastes, etc. The public does have a choice in the matter.
How about fortification of milk or beverages with all sorts of vitamins and good-for-you kind of stuff, you say? These are not mandated by law.
So how ethical is it for a government to spike the drinking water with fluoride and force its citizens to consume excessive fluoride? I wonder.