PROCTOR — The Vermont Health Department and the state’s oral health director are petitioning Proctor voters to vote up article 7 this Town Meeting Day — allowing the town to continue the practice of adding fluoride to the public drinking water supply.
The practice of adding fluoride to the water in town began in 1963 but this is the first time it’s being questioned, according to Joanne Calvi, health services district director for the state Health Department in Rutland.
The day before this Town Meeting Day on March 1, Proctor voters will be asked to vote from the floor on the following question, according to the town clerk’s office: “Shall the town vote to continue the practice of adding fluoride to the public drinking water?”
Calvi said, from her understanding, the question was put on the ballot by the Proctor Select Board, out of concern for the cost of the fluoride.
“But there may be more to it than that,” she said.
“We’re just trying to get out information to the public so they can understand why the Health Department would support it.”
Proctor Select Board members Eric “Rick” Anderson and Susan Feenick did not return repeated calls for comment at press time.
Vermont Oral Health Director Patrick Rowe said he was told the cost to the town was about $6,500, but the cost of not continuing to add fluoride to the town’s drinking supply was far greater.
“Studies we have today show about a 20 to 40 percent reduction in cavities among fluoridated communities, in children and in adults,” Rowe said.
Calvi said the average cost to 2,200 Proctor residents who get water from the town’s own supply is $3 per person per year.
She said in short, Proctor residents have healthier teeth because of the fluoridated water they drink.
The department is in the process of planning how it will send out fact sheets and other public service announcements on the benefits of fluoride before March 1, Calvi said.
The question will be asked from the floor at an informational meeting held in the gym at Proctor Junior/Senior High School March 1 beginning at 7 p.m.