The city of College Station has temporarily stopped adding fluoride to its water supply but plans to resume the supplements as soon as possible, officials said.
Dave Coleman, the city’s water services director, said the lapse in fluoridation shouldn’t cause any problems for residents.
The interruption began about a month ago when the city’s vendor failed to deliver a fluoride shipment, Coleman said. The next shipment isn’t scheduled until next month, he said, and fluoridation of the city’s water should return to normal after that.
The city began adding fluoride to the water several years ago, Coleman said, and the disruption of the supplement shouldn’t last long enough to be noticeable.
The city’s water supply contains some natural fluoride, and it would take more than a month for residents to be affected, Coleman said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared water fluoridation one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century. Fluoridation prevents tooth decay, strengthens tooth enamel, particularly in children, and helps fight cavities, the CDC says.
Critics of fluoridation argue that the water supply’s natural fluoride is sufficient and worry that too much of the chemical may cause health problems.
The city of Bryan and Texas A&M University do not fluoridate their water supplies. Officials at both entities said they regularly monitored research on the chemical but had no plans to begin adding fluoride.
“We just don’t think it’s necessary or advisable to add anything in the water,” said Jim Riley, Texas A&M’s director of utilities.
Riley said the university used about 1.7 billion gallons of water annually and had never added supplements other than chlorine.
“We want to make sure everyone is safe and satisfied,” he said.
Bryan halted fluoridation several years ago when the city upgraded its water facilities.
Jayson Barfknecht, director of the city’s water utilities, said the water supply has enough natural fluoride to meet health requirements. But with enough “hard, concrete evidence” that more fluoride was needed, he would re-evaluate the decision to end the fluoridation program, he said.
D.C. Breeding, director of environmental health, safety and security for Texas A&M’s Look College of Engineering, said he didn’t think the natural water supply had a sufficient amount of fluoride.
Water fluoridation began in the 1940s, and its safety and effectiveness have been firmly established, Breeding said.
“Clearly, drinking-water fluoridation provides benefits far in excess of costs and of any health risk,” he said.
College Station pediatric dentist Gary Badger said the city’s water supply didn’t have enough natural fluoride to fully benefit children. Well water doesn’t have any fluoride, he said.
Badger said that drinking from a fluoridated water supply was important for the development of children’s teeth and that though College Station’s lack of fluoridation may be temporary, children may still be affected.
“Children who are consuming water that is fluoridated can reduce tooth decay by 65 percent,” he said, adding that adults see benefits as well.
Residents who do not get fluoridated water can add their own supplements and buy toothpaste, mouthwash and bottled water with fluoride, he said.