Ignoring evidence on causes of disease such as smoking can harm public health. This report explores how public health experts started to ignore evidence that pediatric vitamin D deficiencies are associated with dental caries. Historical analyses show that an organization of clinical specialists, the American Dental Association (ADA), initiated this view. The ADA was a world-leading organization and its governing bodies worked through political channels to make fluoride a global standard of care for a disease which at the time was viewed as an indicator of vitamin D deficiencies. The ADA scientific council was enlisted in this endeavor and authorized the statement saying that “claims for vitamin D as a factor in tooth decay are not acceptable”. This statement was ghost-written, the opposite of what the ADA scientific council had endorsed for 15 years, and the opposite of what the National Academy of Sciences concluded. Internal ADA documents are informative on the origin of this scientific conundrum; the ADA scientific council had ignored their scientific rules and was assisting ADA governing bodies in conflicts with the medical profession on advertising policies. The evidence presented here suggests that professional organizations of clinical specialists have the power to create standards of care which ignore key evidence and consequently can harm public health.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.