Voters have decided not to add fluoride to the town’s drinking water.
The measure was defeated Tuesday by a vote of 2,859-2,276.
Select Board member Newell “Russ” West said the board would abide by the vote.
“We were smart enough to say it was going right to the people, who were more vehement about this than the parking garage,” West said.
Community water fluoridation has been widely utilized in the country since 1945 as a way to prevent cavities. The Vermont State Dental Association said it is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health.
The issue has been debated in Bratteboro for decades and resurfaced last year when Gov. Howard Dean criticized the town for failing to fluoridate it water supply, saying the town had a higher-than-average number of children with poor dental health.
Every dentist in town supported the fluoridation, but opponents argued that fluoride should be optional. Those who wanted their children to have fluoride could have fluoride treatments and use fluoride toothpaste, opponents said.
The Department of Health would have paid the approximate $60,000 costs for the first year’s chemicals if the town had approved the measure.