OCEAN SPRINGS — The Mississippi Department of Public Health, in the interest of stronger teeth, would like to add fluoride to the city’s water supply.
Dr. Nick Mosca, State Dental Director, said Wednesday that the state offers grants to cities that pays 100 percent of the equipment needed to add fluoride to city water. The cost of adding fluoride to the water would be $1.16 per person per year, he said.
The Board of Aldermen did not take any immediate action on Mosca’s offer of grant funds, saying they wanted to study the issue and get public feedback before adding anything, even fluoride, to the water system. However, they did agree to discuss the grant at their next regular meeting Feb. 7.
Alderman Julia Weaver said she was “very much in favor of investing in the program with the Department of Public Health.” Alderman Matt McDonnell said he felt adding fluoride to the water system was “something good” for the city.
Alderman Curtis Lloyd told Mosca that he thought the city’s water was already fluoridated.
“Since I was 10 or 12 years old, I have been under the assumption that we have had fluoridation,” he said.
Mosca said Lloyd’s reaction is common, since fluoridated water systems have been common in the United States for the last 70 years. However, he said only 67 percent of water systems in the country, and 53 percent in Mississippi, are fluoridated.
Mosca said the state health department wants to make sure that all Mississippi water systems have adequate fluoridation, which he said is 1 part per million.
André Kaufman, Ocean Springs director of public works, said he wanted to know how adding fluoride to the system would affect the operation of the water system. Noting the city has received a Level 5 rating from the Department of Health over the last several years for its water, which is the highest rating given to water systems, he said he did not want to do anything to hurt that rating.
Mosca said that fluoridation has been proven to be extremely safe. He said dentists began promoting artificial fluoridation of water systems after noticing people drinking water from systems that had significant amounts of fluoride had fewer problems with their teeth.
Over the 70 years that fluoride has been added to water systems, Mosca said there have been a number of peer-reviewed studies and reviews that have shown it to be safe and effective in water systems.
According to a news release from the Department of Public Health, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proclaimed community water fluoridation one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.
The release also says that studies prove water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by 20 percent to 40 percent, even in an era with widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste.
According to the release, the only Jackson County water systems with fluoridated water are Pascagoula and Westwick Utilities. In Harrison County, the only water system with fluoridation is Keesler Air Force Base. In George County, both Lucedale and the Combined Utilities District have fluoridated water.