It may mean less business for him, but Dr. Bill Taylor says adding fluoride to Corner Brook’s water supply would be a good thing for everybody.
The city dentist is concerned with the number of cavities he is seeing in young kids on a regular basis and feels the lack of fluoridation is the culprit.
“The cavity rate in young kids in Corner Brook is atrocious,” Taylor said in an interview.
“The amount we see on a given day is unreal.”
He doesn’t have access to the numbers, but Taylor said too many kids from the area have to be put asleep for dental procedures to address multiple cavities — as many as five to 12 cavities in some cases.
While poor dental hygiene practices and diets high in sugar are also factors, Taylor said the problem he sees in Corner Brook is too widespread to be blamed on those reasons alone.
“Corner Brook is no different than any other city in the world for those factors,” he said. “What we’re seeing here is across the population, no matter the age or socioeconomic status.”
He often hears from frustrated parents who swear their kids do not each much sugar and are good brushers and flossers.
Fluoride, which can be added to the water supply, helps re-mineralize teeth and protects them against the enamel-wearing acids caused by sugar-eating bacteria in the mouth.
Major entities, including the Canadian Dental Association, the World Dental Federation, the World Health Organization and the Canadian Cancer Society, all support the idea of adding fluoride to water.
Taylor has provided the City of Corner Brook with plenty of information he hopes might convince the municipality to add fluoride to its water.
The city used to add fluoride, but likely hasn’t in decades. Mayor Charles Pender said the city hasn’t been using fluoride since he was first elected to office in 1997.
Pender believes a piece of equipment used to add fluoride malfunctioned some time in the mid-1990s, prior to his election. The broken part was fixed, but the idea of adding fluoride was apparently revisited by the council and city staff of the day and a decision was made to discontinue adding fluoride.
“There are two schools of thought on this,” noted Pender. “Some people are absolutely horrified by the thought of having fluoride in the water, for a whole host of reasons of which I am not totally familiar. Then there are others who recommend that we should have it. So, the jury is out.”
The mayor said this has never been an issue since the practice of adding fluoride was stopped and it is not something the current council has discussed. He did say that some people have inquired as to whether the city’s new water treatment plant adds fluoride, because they would not drink it if it did.
The new plant has the capacity to add fluoride, but does not do so. Pender said he doesn’t know what the costs involved would be to add the chemical.
He said Steve May, the City of Corner Brook’s director of operational services, would bring forth Taylor’s information and concerns to a meeting of the city’s infrastructure and public works committee of council for review.
Fluoride is found in some toothpaste or in products available through a dentist. Adding it to public drinking water would make it available to a wider segment of the population.
Taylor, meanwhile, said the biggest risk of using too much fluoride is a condition called fluorosis, which can cause white spots, or sometimes orange-brown spots, on teeth.
“The biggest thing with fluorosis is aesthetic,” Taylor said. “To me, a mouthful of fluorosis is a beautiful thing because that person is probably not going to get a cavity because their teeth are rock solid and fortified with minerals.
The dentist likened those who oppose fluoridation of the water supply to those who are against vaccinating children. He added the fact the city hasn’t used fluoride in maybe 20 years or more doesn’t change his belief it is needed now.
“Yes, we had it in the past and it’s gone now, but it should be back in there,” said Taylor. “If you look at the guidelines and research by major, not-for-profit organizations, they are all promoting the benefit of fluoride in our water. It’s pretty simple.”