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Monday, January 13, 2014

Fluoridation: Follow the Money, by Carol S. Kopf, BS, MA



Multi-billion dollar international conglomerates, which benefit from tooth decay and fluoride sales, pour money into organized dentistry, which is behind virtually every fluoridation initiative. Money makes dentistry politically powerful and enables them to get laws  passed to benefit dentists' bottom line. 

The American Dental Association (ADA), many of its over 250 constituent state and city  associations are  benefactors of corporate dollars along with other fluoridation-promoting dental groups, schools and organizations.

Dentists, inside and outside of government and industry, seem to have vast amounts of money and influence to promote fluoridation. Where does it come from?

The ADA and the ADA Foundation received over $28 million from pharmaceutical companies, dental equipment manufacturers and insurance companies, from 2006 – 2009, according to a January 20, 2010, letter from the ADA’s Chief Financial Officer to U.S. Senator Charles Grassley.

Grassley wants more accountability and transparency between the ADA and industry. The ADA didn’t comply with Grassley’s request to publish its corporate funders on its website. However, Grassley listed them on his own website http://www.grassley.senate.gov/sites/default/files/about/upload/2011-05-04-CEG-Letter-to-American-Dental-Association.pdf

Fluoride-selling pharmaceutical giants listed include: Colgate, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, and others.


ADA’s Seal of Acceptance

Several companies on Grassley’s list paid a “Seal Program Maintenance Fee,” totaling $574,000 for four years (2006-2009). 

The ADA requires a one-time, non-refundable submission fee before reviewing over-the-counter products ($14,500 per product).  If given the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance, companies are required to pay an annual maintenance fee of $3,500 per product, according to Jan Lord, Manager, Acceptance Program, ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs.

Approximately, 260 items appear on the ADA’s current Accepted “Shopping List.”   A large number are fluoride products.

More Legal Financial Exchanges between the ADA and Industry

Sometimes the ADA joins into “Cause-Related-Marketing” with for-profit companies. For example:  the William Wrigley Company agreed to donate a percentage of its ADA Accepted chewing gum products to the ADA’s Give Kids A Smile program, according to Guidelines Governing the American Dental Association’s Corporate Relationships. 

Wrigley paid the ADA $36,000 to review some of Wrigley’s sugar-free chewing gum studies to get the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance, according to CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  Gupta writes, “The ADA stands by its seal and told us any company can apply for the seal, as long as the company pays for it.

Johnson & Johnson gave $900,000 to fund the ADA’s annual session’s distinguished speaker series (2006-2009).

In 2007, Barbara Walters and Lance Armstrong Headlined the ADA’s Distinguished Speaker Series

Many prominent journalists and politicians have been paid to speak at ADA conventions. In 2013 former President Bill Clinton was the main event. Some might say it’s a good way to buy influence.

Colgate funds the ADA research institute newly renamed after dentist Anthony R. Volpe, who recently retired as Vice President of Clinical Research and Scientific Affairs at Colgate-Palmolive Company. 

Colgate’s Volpe and a Henry Schein, Inc. representative serve on the Board of Directors of Forsyth Institute which bills itself as “the only independent research institute in America specializing in oral health and its impact on overall wellness.” Forsyth is where Dr. Phyllis Mullenix’s research found that fluoride can cause brain deficits in rodents. Mullenix was fired for publishing her results in a peer-reviewed, respected journal, against the orders her Forsyth boss, explained in the first chapter of “The Fluoride Deception.”


Dental Schools are corporation-subsidized

Henry Schein, Inc.,the largest distributor of healthcare products and services to office-based practitioners gave the NYU Dental School a six figure gift in 2000 and a million dollars the year before.

The NYU Donor Honor Roll reveals that Colgate-Palmolive Company and Nobel Biocare USA, Inc gave from $1 to 4$ million (2011-2012).


Centers for Disease Control

If a community elects to stop fluoridation, invariably a dentist and his posse shows up intimidating them into re-starting fluoridation. As ammunition, they state that “CDC has recognized water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”

That statement may sound impressive. However it was made by dental professionals within the CDC’s Oral Health Division, who are paid to promote fluoridation.  The CDC also says, “It is not CDC's task to determine what levels of fluoride in water are safe.”

The CDC’s Oral Health Division may be a stepping stone into a more lucrative career promoting fluoridation for outside interests. When forced to defend fluoridation with words and not hide behind catch-phrases and government credentials, two former CDC Oral Health Division Directors fell short.

a) Dentist William Kohn - Now with Delta Dental, a dental “insurance” company that strongly supports fluoridation financially, Kohn does a poor job of convincing anyone to endorse fluoridation in a series of Delta Dental YouTube videos. I’ll bet he makes way more money in his new job.

b) Dentist William Mass was equally impotent when asked to defend fluoridation before a county legislature in his new job as Fluoridation Consultant to the billion-dollar Pew Foundation’s Dental Policy group. Under his guidance, Pew fluoridation initiatives in Portland, Oregon and Wichita, Kansas failed when voters rejected fluoridation 60% to 40% despite the vast amount of money spent trying to convince them to swallow the fluoride.

Dentists Doing Very Well, Thank You, Despite Fluoridation

Fluoridation hasn’t hurt dentistry’s bottom line at all. In fact, dentistry is big business today despite 7 decades of water fluoridation and a glut of fluoridated dental products. Americans spent about $108 billion on dentists in 2011, an inflation-adjusted increase from $64 billion in 1996, according to the General Accounting Office. But a dental crisis still exists.

Since fluoridation doesn’t reduce tooth decay, whose best interests are served by protecting fluoride’s image?
  
The Global Toothpaste Market is expected to reach $12.6 billion by 2015, according Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

And, as you know, toothpaste isn’t the only fluoridated dental product on the market.

The global dental equipment market is predicted to exhibit a compound annual growth rate of 9% to reach over $13 billion by 2016

Cosmetic dentistry continues to surge with an annual U.S. expenditure of $2.75 billion. 

Fluoridation has created a lucrative new market for cosmetic dentistry. Fluoride-overdose symptoms, dental fluorosis (discolored teeth) has increased in incidence and severity over the years.  WebMD writes, “Although fluorosis is not a disease, its effects can by psychologically distressing and difficult to treat. Parental vigilance can play an important role in preventing fluorosis.”

Sales of fluoride varnish are soaring as organized dentistry lobbied legislators to increase, require or allow their use among more practitioners – even though the varnish contains a hugely toxic 22,600 parts per million fluoride and has never been FDA approved for cavity reduction or safety tested. http://www.cda.org/Portals/0/pdfs/ab667_topical_fluoride_faq.pdf

Money is Power

Why does the ADA need so much money?  Money is power in American politics. The ADA’s Political Action Committee is considered a Heavy Hitter by the Center for Responsive Politics. It seems that organized dentistry lobbies mostly for laws that benefit their member dentists. Some legislation masquerades as a public benefit. Fluoridation wears such a mask.

The New York State Dental Association brags about its legislative victories on its website

The New York Times reported about the NY Dental Association’s political clout and sleazy politicking, in 2008.

The Greater New York Dental Meeting which is billed as the largest dental conference in the country generates millions of dollars. Exhibitors look like a who’s who in the dental industry

 A National Journal article (1/20/2014) explains how organized dentistry heavily funds two dentists (Reps Mike Simpson and Paul Gosar) in the US House of Representatives. In 2012, The Wall Street reported that Simpson helped stall funding for a piece of the new health care law which the dental lobby opposed. In 2013, the American Dental Association listed two "action alerts" on its website, urging its members to write in support of legislation. Both bills were authored by Gosar, and Simpson was among the earliest cosponsors of both.

Simpson co-authored a dental bill that included fluoridation in 2004 and earlier

Gosar spearheaded a failed 2001 push to fluoridate Flagstaff, Arizona.

Gosar and Simpson co-signed a letter to all Congress encouraging water fluoridation. 

Healthy Diets Make Healthy Teeth without Fluoride

Even the ADA admits good dental health begins in the womb. It’s important for pregnant women to receive sufficient amounts of tooth-building nutrients, including calcium, protein, phosphorous and vitamins A, C and D  But dentists are mostly focused on fluoride, a drug with adverse side effects, that is not even essential for healthy teeth. American children are especially deficient in  Vitamin D and calcium, which is linked to more tooth decay.

But there’s no money in selling nutrients and healthy eating.

So it’s not surprising that the U.S. is experiencing a tooth decay epidemic along with a fluoride-overdose epidemic. Up to 60% of adolescents have dental fluorosis. Yet 51% of them have tooth decay.


Nearly 9,500 new dental providers are needed to meet the country’s current oral health
needs, according to a report by US Senator Bernie Sanders (Dental Crisis in America February 2012)



Who’s in Charge?

No government agency has direct oversight of fluoridation. The CDC it’s not responsible for fluoridation safety. The FDA regulates fluoride as a drug for topical application and considers ingested fluoride such as fluoride supplements, an unapproved drug. The EPA regulates fluoride in water supplies as a contaminant.  Organized dentistry, fueled by corporate cash, protects fluoride’s image and promotes fluoridation but not the American public.

So Why Fluoridation? 

The dental crisis America faces today is because dentistry has become a luxury service that most Americans can’t afford.  80% of dentists refuse to accept Medicaid patients, 130 million lack dental insurance.  Many with dental insurance can’t afford dentistry’s high out of pocket fees.  The answer is simple - legalize Dental Therapists in the US as they have been for decades in other first world countries.  They just need 2 or 3 years training to do simple dentistry. They will go into mouths and areas dentists refuse to go. Studies show they are highly effective and more affordable.

However, organization dentistry, with its pockets full of corporate cash, lobby long and hard to keep affordable dentistry an oxymoron in the US.  Dentists lobby against dental therapists because, some say, they infringe upon dentists lucrative monopoly.



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