GREENFIELD — The Community Health Center of Franklin County has suggested that the town consider adding fluoride to its public water supply after a dental hygienist found a significant amount of tooth decay and oral health problems in young children while visiting local schools.
Edward Sayer, CEO of the Community Health Center, will speak before the Board of Health Wednesday along with an expert dentist to discuss the idea. Sayer said water fluoridation seems like an easy and effective way to reduce the number of incidents of tooth decay in Greenfield.
“Our dental hygienist has seen lots of really little kids in the elementary schools with rampant decay, and a lot of that could really be abated with regular fluoridation,” Sayer said. ” As far as I know, it’s safe and inexpensive. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring substance in groundwater. The fluoridation process just brings it up to where it can have an impact on tooth decay. It strengthens tooth enamel.”
He added water fluoridation is a big return on investment, as every dollar spent on community fluoridation winds up saving an average of $38 in dental costs.
Sayer said one counter argument he’s heard is that people can get fluorine in other ways, either from toothpaste or topical fluoride, which is typically given to children. Although those methods are usually effective, he said it’s good for people to get fluoride systemically, because it works on teeth from the inside, out.
“This is low-hanging fruit as far as prevention goes,” he said, adding, “The health center itself is not necessarily recommending fluoridation. Our particular stance is that we would like the community to be as healthy as possible, and as many things we can do of a preventative nature as a community, we would support.”
The Board of Health will discuss the idea during its meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at 20 Sanderson St.