The Branson Board of Aldermen hosted a special meeting on Thursday, July 13, to examine the issue of fluoridation of the city’s water supply.
The meeting was arranged to have three “experts” on each side of the debate make a presentation to the board. Some of the speakers addressed the aldermen through video sharing services because they don’t live in the Branson area.
Branson-based dentist Dr. Gabriel Harr endorsed the use of fluoridation of public water supplies.
“In my personal experience moving here to Branson, we have well water, and my kids, since we’ve been here, have had a 30% increase in cavities in their own mouths,” Harr said. “Which actually follows closely studies presented by the [American Dental Association], which shows fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by 25% in children and adults.”
Harr said fluoridation of water is the most cost-effective way to reduce tooth decay.
“When compared to the cost of other prevention programs, water fluoridation is the most cost effective way to prevent tooth decay of youth and adults in the United States. The cost of a lifetime of water fluoridation is less than the cost of one filling for one person.”
He felt dropping the fluoridation of the water would increase the workload on community dentists who are already operating at near capacity.
Washington state based dentist Dr. Bill Osmunson shared during his Zoom testimony that he promoted water fluoridation for the first half of his career, but no longer does so.
“Freedom of choice,” Osmunson said. “There are other sources of fluoride if someone wants to inject fluoride. Also, swallowing fluoride is not FDA CDER [Center for Drug Evaluation and Research] approved. They said the evidence is incomplete. They said it doesn’t work yet that we can tell.”
A Florida based dentist, Dr. Johnny Johnson Jr., who is a life fellow of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry spoke to the board and endorsed the continued use of fluoride.
“I’m not just saying facts like this because I want something nice to pull out,” Johnson said. “[Fluoridation] is effective in reducing cavities up to 25% for adults and children.”
Johnson said fluoridation saves about $32 per person in dental costs.”
Johnson noted former President Donald Trump endorsed the use of fluoride in water to help with rural oral health.
“[Dental cavities] are a disease and we want to see the disease wiped out,” Johnson said. “They are the most common chronic disease for adults and children. People cannot think clearly at work and school. They have difficulty making good grades. Some people will die because of dental infections every year.”
Local chiropractor Dr. Bo Bandy testified he’s seen every health issue come through his doors and has been anti-fluoridation for 15 years.
“When I was an undergrad I took a class called biological statistics,” Bandy said. “One of the things I learned from that class is that you can make any study say anything you want if you do the demographics the right way, if you pick the people and the ages. Obviously that’s evident because we had two different prominent dentists say two completely opposite things and both of them using studies to back up what they’re saying. So instead of using studies, I want to use logic, a little common sense.”
Bandy said most of the studies don’t tell you about the study itself, just the end product of the study, and he said those who paid for the study can help determine where the study will go.
He said fluoridation is forced medication for cavities and the people drinking water are not giving consent or the situation is “breaking Nuremberg codes.”
He proposed using the money the city would be spending on fluoridation and finding other methods of purifying water.
The aldermen had different perspectives on the move forward on the issue.
Ward II Alderman Cody Fenton wanted to have town halls on the issue, bringing up a time years ago when the board was considering chickens, and said it might be time for more town halls.
“This seems like a big deal,” Fenton said. “I think we should have people come out and weigh in on this because until a few months ago I didn’t know this was an issue. Our pediatrician prescribed fluoride to our kids because we are on Public Water District No. 3 (which does not fluoridate water.) I think we need to hear from people in our wards like we did in the past.”
“None of us up here have a medical degree and we hear conflicting sides from the medical profession, so that’s why it’s more important for me to hear what the people choose to do,” Mayor Larry Milton said.
Ward I Alderman Clay Cooper said he wants to put the matter on the ballot to allow the people to decide if they wanted to continue to have fluoridation of the water.
A formal vote on whether to continue or discontinue the fluoridation of water will take place at a future Board of Aldermen meeting after Ward I Alderman Marshall Howden and Ward III Alderman Ruth Denham moved to have the item on a future agenda.
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.bransontrilakesnews.com/news/local/article_d3947708-2af8-11ee-8326-4393f6ddf350.html