Harrison Public Works director Wade Phillips told the City Council on Thursday that the Carroll Boone Water District is about to start fluoridation, but parents of infants and small children should be notified of a precaution concerning dental fluorosis.
Phillips told aldermen that most equipment is in place at the water treatment plant to begin fluoridation.
The state Legislature in 2011 passed a law requiring all water systems serving more than 5,000 customers to fluoridate water. Carroll Boone is one of the last treatment plants to begin fluoridation in the state.
Phillips presented aldermen with a statement from the Centers for Disease Control concerning fluoride in drinking water.
“Infant formula manufacturers take steps to assure that infant formula contains low fluoride levels — the products themselves are not the issue. Although formula itself has low amounts of fluoride, if your child is exclusively consuming infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water, there may be an increased chance for mild dental fluorosis.
“Infants consume little other than breast milk or formula during the first 4 to 6 months of life, and continue to have a high intake of liquids during the entire first year. Therefore, proportional to body weight, fluoride intake may be higher for younger or smaller children than for older children, adolescents, or adults.”
The CDC says dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of the tooth’s enamel. These changes can vary from barely noticeable white spots in mild forms to staining and pitting in the more severe forms.
Dental fluorosis only occurs when younger children consume too much fluoride, from any source, over long periods when teeth are developing under the gums.
Only children 8 and younger can develop dental fluorosis because this is when permanent teeth are developing under the gums, the DCD’s website said. Once the teeth erupt through the gums and are in the mouth, they can no longer develop fluorosis.
The CDC says the most common sources of fluoride are toothpaste (if swallowed by young children), drinking water in fluoridated communities, beverages and food processed with fluoridated water, dietary prescription supplements that include fluoride such as tablets or drops, and other professional dental products like mouth rinses, gels, and foams.
Phillips said that even though it’s actually a cosmetic condition, it’s still worth noting.
Aldermen discussed ways to make sure citizens know about the precaution. Phillips said it will be printed on water bills and he would have it posted on the city’s website as well.
Phillips said the state Legislature had been presented with a bill to allow water systems to set their fluoridation levels as low as zero, but it had apparently died in a Senate committee.
The state Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee on Wednesday, March 4, voted 3-2 in favor of HB 1355, but the bill needed five votes in favor to advance out of committee to the full Senate. There are eight members on the committee.
Records show the bill has once again been scheduled to come before the Senate committee Wednesday, March 18.
Phillips reminded aldermen that Carroll Boone got a grant from Delta Dental to buy the necessary equipment. The grant contract requires Carroll Boone to fluoridate water for 10 years under possible penalty of having to pay back the grant if the contractual terms aren’t met.
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