VALPARAISO — The commission considering whether to continue adding fluoride to city water was the first to know the results of a study on how fluoride affects intelligence.
The study shows the mineral has no significant effect on IQ and developing children, according to Dr. E. Angeles Martinez-Mier of the Indiana University School of Dentistry and a dental scientist who has worked more than 20 years on fluoride research.
Martinez-Mier was one of eight experts who spoke in favor of fluoridation before the Valparaiso City Utilities Fluoride Commission on Thursday.
She and colleagues from the University of Michigan and University of Toronto will present the study’s findings in about two weeks at the International Association of Dental Research convention in Cape Town, South Africa.
Although the fluoride study has gone on 21/2 years, the tissue and blood samples were collected over 18 years as part of a lead study but were frozen, and the children’s intelligence was measured by a number of tests.
Martinez-Mier also said, “there’s no such thing as fluoride-free water” as it is a naturally occurring mineral.
In response to questions, she said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of not using fluoride in baby formula was made because a study found that fluoride is not effective when the person has no teeth. She said she participated not only in that study but in four of the five CDC studies on fluoridation.
When the practice started in the 1940s, fluoridation reduced cavities by about 60 percent. Compared to modern nonfluoridating areas, the reduction in cavities is 30 percent to 40 percent, she said.
Clinical dental hygienist Eileen Fitzgerald Curosh said that every $1 spent on fluoridation saves families $38 in dental care.
The experts said fluorosis, which discolors teeth, is rare in Indiana, except in Lowell, where the town long ago had to dilute its water because of a naturally high levels of fluoride. Skeletal fluorosis is unheard of in the United States, they said.
Dentist Terry Schechner, past president of the Indiana Dental Association, said he can tell the difference between Valparaiso teeth and patients from rural areas without fluoridated water.
Valparaiso periodontist Gene Ranieri said that as a former resident of Portland, he knows Oregon doesn’t fluoridate because the water naturally contains fluoride. He said the federal government recently reduced its fluoride level recommendations from between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams per liter to just 0.7 milligrams.
Christopher W. Gall, a Valparaiso resident and Griffith dentist, said of the speakers, “the proponents of putting fluoride into our system are the ones who would benefit from taking it out.”
Utilities Board president and commission chairman David Bengs cut off one anti-fluoride audience member after Jillian Pacini argued “all science aside” that providing fluoride was a philosophical issue because it did not give residents a choice. Bengs said she began arguing in circles and he invited her to the anti-fluoride hearing.
The commission will hear from those against adding fluoride at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at City Hall.