POTSDAM — First, there was one, then two more filed in. A family of them marched into the village board meeting room. In a matter of minutes, seats were filled with folks in light blue shirts. Extra chairs had to be brought in.
In the hallway stood the elderly, the middle-aged, and the young — most in the same light blue T-shirt on which was printed, “I heart Fluoride” with the heart being a red cartoon one.
Over 30 people showed up to the meeting, most of them were wearing, or holding the blue shirts.
The people had come to see Johnny Johnson Jr., DMD, MS, president of the American Fluoridation Society, present to the village board why it should vote to continue to fluoridate the water.
“I’m a parent, a grandparent and a pediatric dentist, and me and my family drink fluoridated water,” he said.
For approximately 20 minutes, he presented to the board, stating that fluoridating water had no adverse effects, that getting rid of fluoride increases the likeliness of cavities, and that the effects of getting rid of fluoride affects the poor the most.
“Poor families are twice as likely to have cavities than those who are not poor,” Mr. Johnson said. “Almost 30 percent of (the Village of Potsdam’s) families are living in poverty — which I’m not telling you something you don’t know. You walk down the street and three out of every 10 families that you see are living in poverty. Those are the ones who get the most cavities.”
“A healthy debate is what’s needed here,” Shelly Lacler, who is against fluoridating the water, said during the public comments section of the meeting.
“The No. 1 killer of people in this country is heart disease. There’s a number of drugs we could add to our water supply. Well, boy, I’m going to demand that that gets added to our water supply because, unlike cavities which, you know, sure, there is occasionally a death behind a cavity and it’s horrible. I wouldn’t want to see it happen. Definitely not. Thank god we have the health clinic in Canton that can help folks like that at 20 dollars a cavity. But, you know we don’t want to add … drugs like that to our water for heart disease when it’s the No. 1 killer of human beings in the United States,” she said.
Brenda J. Healy, an emergency physician at Canton-Potsdam Hospital, spoke of how she often sees patients complaining of tooth-related maladies.
“Not a day goes by that we don’t find one or more patients complaining about their teeth,” she said.
Potsdam resident, Alexandra J. Wilke, had strong words for the village board.
“If you’re unwilling to listen to the council of local, state, national and international medical, scientific and dental experts in favor of minority views that have been soundly discredited as we’ve heard today, what other advice are you willing to ignore?” she asked the village board.
A public hearing on the topic is set for 5 p.m. Sept. 4 in the civic center board room. Village trustees will likely vote on the issue soon after.