Israelis will once again be drinking fluoridated water after a two-year halt imposed by then-health-minister MK Yael German (Yesh Atid). The fluoridation policy, especially beneficial to the dental health of children, is endorsed by public health experts and dentists.
As soon as Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) signs the new regulations and they are published in Reshumot, fluoridation will resume quickly in areas where the devices that introduce the gas are in good repair. Local authorities will inform the public so those people who have been giving their children fluoride drops or using fluoride toothpaste can stop doing so. In locales where fluoridation equipment is not functional, authorities will have six months to make repairs.
Monday’s decision by the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee to restore fluoridation allows the Mekorot water company to add minute amounts of the gas to municipal water supplies. A small fee in water bills will cover the cost.
Ministry public health officials and Litzman strongly backed the restoration of fluoridation. When German and her party were voted out of power in the last Knesset elections, reversing her cancellation of fluoridation was one of the first steps they planned to implement.
Prof. Jonathan Mann, head of community dentistry at the Hebrew University- Hadassah Dental Faculty and former head of the faculty, was thrilled by the vote. “For the last year and a half, we – the group which made all efforts to restore fluoridation – appreciate the decision taken today by the Knesset,” he said.
“We hope this would finally end a period of absence of fluoride in the drinking water. We deeply believe, as do hundreds of millions around the world, that water fluoridation is the most important public health measure in caries [dental cavity] prevention…
Water fluoridation is the most cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all members of the community regardless of age, education or income level,” said Mann.
“We would like to thank the Health Ministry and the active participants in this struggle. This is a very important achievement for the benefit of the health of our people in Israel – children as well as adults and elderly.”
The group, which initiated an appeal to the High Court of Justice, argued that German’s decision meant rotten teeth for poor children whose parents would have no way of providing then with fluoride.
German, now in the opposition, had argued from the beginning of her two years in office that people “should not be forced to swallow or eat something they don’t want.” After the vote, she said it was an “unfortunate decision that will force… people to consume something about which there is a divided opinion.
Mandatory fluoridation will cause a decline in public confidence in the quality of drinking water. Those who can afford bottled mineral water will buy it, thus widening economic and social gaps.”
She added that the level of fluoride in water cannot be supervised because of different body weights and drinking habits. Low-weight babies are liable to be harmed by high levels of fluoride relative to their weights,” she charged.