PLANT CITY – The city is considering adding fluoride to its water supply to help fight tooth decay.
City staff members are researching how much it will cost to join other cities in the region in adding fluoride to the water. City Manager David Sollenberger expects to present the report to the city commissioners Jan. 25.
Sollenberger said he expects health officials and dental professionals will be on hand at the Jan. 25 meeting to “present the value added by fluoridating the water supply.”
The state has grants available to help pay for the equipment and startup costs, he said.
Dentists have long advocated adding fluoride, common in toothpaste, to the water supply. Members of the Hillsborough County Health Department and West Coast District Dental Association have met with the city to advocate fluoridation of the water, Sollenberger said.
Many nearby utilities fluoridate their water, including Tampa, Temple Terrace and Lakeland and unincorporated Hillsborough County.
Plant City has naturally occurring fluoride in its water of about 0.4 parts per million. The fluoridation equipment would bring the level to 0.8 parts per million, consider the “optimal level,” Sollenberger said.
The city discussed fluoridating the water in the mid-1990s amid stiff opposition, but never followed through with it. Despite support from public health authorities, the addition of fluoride is controversial. Opponents question the need for adding it to water and whether it qualifies as medicine, and cite the ethics of mass intervention.
Mike Sparkman, the only sitting commissioner from that era, voted against fluoridation, but has changed his mind. “I think it’s probably something we probably should be doing,” he said.