Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District customers will vote Nov. 8 on whether the water district – which serves all or parts of seven communities – should continue to add fluoride to the water it sends to household taps.
A group called the Campaign to Reconsider Water Fluoridation will host a forum on the issue Friday at Kennebunk Town Hall Auditorium at 7 p.m.
The forum will feature Dr. Leonardo Trasande, associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and population health, with New York University School of Medicine, and Dianne Smallidge, associate professor at the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, Boston.
KK&W serves the towns of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells, Arundel, Ogunquit, parts of York and some coastal portions of Biddeford.
KK&W supports elimination of fluoride, said company Superintendent Norm Labbe.
According to KK&W, the district’s water sources already have between .2 and .3 parts per million of naturally occurring calcium fluoride, which it says is about 50 percent of the amount the Maine Drinking Eater Program has set as the minimum level for fluoridated water supplies.
Labbe said fluoride “is great” to discourage tooth decay if it is topically applied to the teeth, but it is the district’s opinion, he said, and there’s no need to swallow it.
On Nov. 8, voters will be asked “shall KK&W add fluoride to the water.” A no vote would discontinue the addition of fluoride, Labbe said.
The American Dental Association claims adding fluoride to drinking water is safe and prevents 25 percent of cavities. The federal Centers for Disease Control, on its webpage, says drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and reduces tooth decay by the same figure.
Others feel differently. According to a 2005 article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons quoting the World Health Organization, Ireland, considered at that time to be the most fluoridated country in the world at 66 percent, did not have the least amount of tooth decay. Five countries with lesser amounts of decay – Finland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands – had little or no water fluoridation.
Locally, a 2014 citizen-initiated effort to hold a district vote on the matter failed to gain enough support to be on the ballot. This time, the Campaign to Reconsider Water Fluoridation gathered enough petition signatures for a referendum vote.