BENNINGTON — The Committee on Community Dental Health does not recommend fluoridation of the Bennington water system, it said in a recently released report.
The one-page document includes the unanimous conclusions of the committee. It is signed by the committee’s chairman Ted Doucette.
“We can not recommend fluoridation of the public water system of the Town of Bennington,” the report begins.
“It is the finding of this committee that consideration of fluoridation of the public water system should be postponed indefinitely,” the report stated, noting the conclusion came after months of meetings that included discussions and reviewing presentations and literature.
“It is the recommendation of this committee that, at the present time, the Board of Selectors promote good oral health by fully supporting and encouraging school group efforts, health community group efforts, and other community group efforts that are directed at improved nutritional and dietary health practices, tobacco use prevention, and improved access to comprehensive oral health care for all our citizens,” the report said.
The Select Board created the committee in April – comprised of “prominent impartial citizens” – after two tense public hearings on fluoridation. Representative of groups both for and against fluoridating the town water supply joined as members of the committee, set up in response to the debate surrounding fluoridation.
For more than four decades, Bennington has resisted efforts to introduce fluoride into the municipal water system.
Since 1963, according to Banner archives, the question of fluoridation has been raised at least four times, not including this most recent push prompted by the request of a group of local dentists, led by Dr. Michael Brady.
Opponents claim ingesting fluoride, even at low levels, is a health risk, and that putting fluoride in the water supply is a violation of their freedom to choice.
Fluoridation supporters count as allies like the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the Surgeon General.
Fluoridation failed by a three-to-one margin in a special town meeting vote in 1963, and by a 10-to-one margin in another vote in 1971, according to Banner accounts.
Two other attempts, in 1973 and 1985, also failed.
When the committee was formed by the Select Board, board member Joseph L. Krawczyk Jr. may have had a crystal ball.
“The recommendation might not be fluoridation,” said Krawczyk. “It might be education, nutrition or more money into dental resources.”
In fact, the report ends by suggesting to the Select Board it create several specifics sub-committees to help improve Bennington’s oral health. Among the topics;
* toothbrush give-aways
* United Way funding
* a transportation fund to get children to the dentist
* dental hygienists in schools
The report will be presented to the Select Board at its meeting tonight.