The director of the National Center for Fluoridation gave the local dental and medical community the tools needed to begin a pro-fluoridation campaign.
The Cayuga County Dental Society and the Cayuga Community Health Network invited Dr. Michael F. Easley to discuss the benefits of having fluoride in the public’s drinking water Tuesday during a dinner and meeting at the Holiday Inn in Auburn.
After Easley’s talk, about 65 dentists, physicians and dental hygienists present resolved to discuss with patients and public officials the health benefits and Medicaid savings of fluoridating public water supplies.
No specific plan for advocating fluoridation was formulated.
The discussion was prompted by an article in The Post-Standard about the high percentage of cavities among children in the county, said James Kennedy, executive director of the health network. The organizations invited all primary health care practitioners to the event.
Kennedy said the purpose was to address the lack of fluoride in public water systems in the county. Auburn voters banned fluoridation in 1972.
According to a state Department of Health report, which will be released this spring, 72 percent of third-graders surveyed in the county have at least one cavity compared with 42 percent of third-graders surveyed in Onondaga County, where 93 percent of the population receives fluoridated water.
“It’s safe, effective and economical,” said Easley before the meeting. “It’s the best single public health activity that can be implemented in a community to affect the oral health of the community.”
Easley, whose organization is based in Chicago, told audience members about the resources available and the ways to counter opposition.
Opponents view fluoridation as government’s attempt to medicate its populace and contest its ability to prevent tooth decay. Paul H. Connett, a St. Lawrence University chemistry professor and executive director of the Fluoride Action Network, recently gave a presentation before Auburn city councilors in which he called fluoride a toxic substance and a contributor to disease.
“He’s misleading people and misrepresenting things,” Easley said. “He has the right to say what he wants, but he’s wrong.”
Fluoridation helps prevent periodontal disease, which is entwined with such conditions as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, Easley said.
After the talk, local dentist Theresa Casper-Klock led a discussion of what steps will be taken next.
Fluoride is one of 50 beneficial chemicals approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for use in public water supplies, Kennedy said.