The new water treatment plant for Big Canoe will not be equipped with a water fluoridation dispensing mechanism, according to Arnold Ellison, vice president of the Big Canoe Water Company.
The company stopped adding fluoride to Big Canoe’s water in 2007, Ellison said, in part because of a simmering debate about the safety of fluoridating water.
While regulated public water companies are required by Georgia law to fluoridate their water or to hold a referendum giving citizens the choice to opt out of fluoridating, private water companies like the company serving much of Big Canoe are not subject to the law.
Water utility companies have been fluoridating the water in the United States since the 1940s and 50s, with great success.
According to the Centers for Disease Control website, “Fluoride’s ability to inhibit or even reverse the initiation and progression of dental caries (cavities) is well documented.” The American Dental Association recommends fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.
As with many other chemicals and additives, too much fluoride can be harmful, especially to infants, according to published reports. A purchaser for the water utility in Dalton, Ga., was fired in November after he refused to re-order fluoride for the company, citing the chemical’s dangers.
Dr. David Wells of Foothills Dental Associates said that while the Big Canoe Water Company isn’t required to add fluoride to the water, officials should have notified Big Canoe residents that the fluoridation program was ending.
Big Canoe residents should talk to their dentist about alternate fluoride sources, Wells said. It’s especially important for young children and for senior citizens, the dentist said.
“There have been numerous studies done over the years showing the effectiveness of adding fluoride,” said Wells, who has lived at Big Canoe for eight years. “Certainly people need to know that it’s no longer being added.”
Wells said he and his family use a non-prescription fluoride rinse, which can be purchased at any drugstore, to make sure they are getting adequate fluoride.