The state’s top dentist visited Davenport on Thursday and promoted the continued use of fluoride in the public water systems.
Dr. Bob Russell said children with teeth treated by fluoride, such as in drinking water, have much healthier teeth than children did generations ago. The treatment process is facing challenges by opponents, including in the Quad-Cities, but Russell said it is “very effective, safe, and is endorsed by all major health organizations” including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Atlanta.
Russell, director of the dental bureau at the Iowa State Health Department in Des Moines, said community water fluoridation is also one of the “top 10” public health achievements of the last 50-60 years.
“Please help us preserve our basic prevention network,” he said. “We just can’t afford to go backward.”
Russell’s position was supported by the Scott County Board of Health. Further, the board members will look at possible position papers, with the idea of making a statement in June to support fluoridated public water supplies.
Joseph Amato of Davenport made a presentation on fluoridated water earlier this week to the Davenport School Board. Contacted on Thursday, Amato said current studies do not support the effectiveness of fluoride and that people should ingest fluoride with “informed consent,” which is not possible when it is added to the public water system.
Amato, a member of Fluoride-Free Quad-Cities, contends that too much fluoride leads to health issues, including a condition called “dental fluorosis.” Fluorosis manifests itself as mottled spots on the teeth. He also points out that many countries in the world do not add fluoride to public water systems.
Dr. Greg Garvin, a health board member and pediatrician, explained that he was born in 1949, about the time fluoride was introduced to the public. “I have one cavity,” he said, crediting his good dental health in part to the fluoride.
“It’s a myth that fluoride is dangerous,” Garvin said, adding that it needs to be consumed at recommended levels.
Kathleen Hanson, also on the board, said two of her grandchildren were born in Germany, which does not have a fluoridated public water system. Her daughter was given fluoride tablets and instructed on how to provide appropriate treatments to the youngsters.
Hanson called that a very ineffective way to deliver fluoride. “It requires parents to prepare the fluoride tablets correctly and to do them, regularly,” she said. In Germany, it is evident which children have treated teeth and those who do not, Hanson added.
Health board member Dr. Ken Wilcke, a retired veterinarian, asked Russell about naturally occurring fluoride. Russell explained that central Iowa has more natural fluoride in the water than areas near the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
Garvin said too much fluoride can be dangerous, and noted areas of China have that situation. Very high fluoride levels can cause a number of health issues, he added.