Right now, Elgin’s water has minimal amounts of natural flouride, but it’s not enough to prevent tooth decay.
“Most of us have been told if you want your teeth to be okay, you should have fluoride in the water,” Elgin resident Jeanette Shelby said.
The American Dental Association agrees, saying fluoridation of community water is the single most effective public health measure to prevent dental decay.
The city of Elgin used to add fluoride to their water, but they stopped in 2005 after they built a new water treatment plant.
“The city water department did a variety of research about the effects on infants, elderly, and the infirmed, and the potential for over-fluoridation. At the time the decision was made to cease fluoride treatments,” Amy Miller, with the city, said.
That came as news to long-time Elgin dentist Dr. Carl Herring.
“I don’t think there’s any science-based evidence that shows reason not to have fluoride in the water,” he said.
The city of Elgin wants residents’ input on whether they should add fluoride to the water.
He has treated hundreds of Elgin children over the years and says the prevalence of child tooth decay is reason enough to restart fluoridation of the city’s water.
“My recommendation would be to put the fluoride back in the water. As far as I know, there was never authorization to take it out,” Herring said.
“I would be in favor of a small amount, because research shows it’s helpful for teeth, not harmful,” Elgin resident Ron Taylor said.
Groups such as the Fluoride Action Network are against fluoridation, believing that it has significant health effects. They are currently petitioning Congress to stop fluoridation nation wide.
The group claims that too much fluoride can strip enamal from children’s teeth, or more significant things such as decreasing thyroid function and increasing a chance of bone fractures.
The city is eager to hear all public comments, and will likely make a decision in coming weeks.
There will be a public workshop on the issue Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Elgin Public Library. The public is encouraged to come and give their input.