A House committee is considering whether to provide students with fluoride rinses after meals at school.
House Bill 3082 directs the State Board of Education to draft rules to make this possible in private and public schools, grades K-12. Parents would have the option to opt-out of the rinses.
The legislation would also direct the Department of Education to solicit the names of dentists who provide free or low-cost treatment for lower-income families.
Salem dentist Dan Saucy testified that the bill will help improve oral health care.
“Fluoride rinses do a little coating on the outside of teeth for a little while. Fluoride in water gets incorporated into the tooth as a child grows,” he said. The rinse is a “good alternative to having fluoride in the water as teeth are formed.”
Fluoridated water is a controversial issue in Oregon. Saucy said 22 percent of the state has access to treated water. That does not include the city of Portland. Residents will vote in May on a measure to add fluoride.
Advocates, including dentists, say it’s critical for healthy, strong teeth. Opponents call it a public health hazard.
Rep. Betty Komp, D-Woodburn, a former school principal spoke passionately about the class time missed by children who lack proper dental care. She is a co-sponsor of the bill.
The House Health Care Committee did not vote on the bill Wednesday as minor amendments are pending. The plan is to vote to send the bill to the Joint Ways and Means Committee before it goes to chambers.