Cobleskill will finally start putting fluoride back in its water, likely by May.
The decision followed an hour-long public hearing on fluoridation last Tuesday with proponents—most of them local doctors and dentists—outnumbering opponents four to one.
In August 2007, the Village of Cobleskill decided to stop fluoridating its water after water Superintendent Jeff Pangman provided information questioning its safety.
Following a lengthy campaign by dentist Gary Surman and others, the village reversed that decision in March 2009, agreeing to put fluoride back in, but because nothing had been budgeted for the required chemical, it never happened.
Since the beginning of the year, residents had asked the status of fluoridation and last Tuesday’s hearing promised to put the issue to bed.
Frederick Dudash was one of just three people speaking against fluoridation and he joked that the issue had been giving him nightmares, nightmares involving his dentist and no Novocaine.
Mr. Dudash argued that fluoridating Cobleskill’s water is a “one size fits all solution,” and said people who believe in fluoride can get it through toothpaste or by prescription.
Mr. Dudash also blasted the practice as one pushed by manufacturers who he said provide everything from free pens to cruises to doctors and dentists.
Dr. Surman drew laughter himself when characterized himself as “one of those elitist dentists.”
“None of Fred Dudash’s statements are backed up by any credible research,” he said, adding, “What kind of people do you want to attract to our community?”
Nancy VanDeusen agreed with Mr. Dudash’s point that fluoride is available from other sources; Roy Korn, president of the Schoharie County Medical Society, agreed with Dr. Surman that there’s no evidence fluoride is harmful.
Dawn Higley said her concern over fluoride is that she can’t opt out of it for her children, but the rest of the speakers spoke only to its benefits.
Caroline Gomez-DiCesare, a physician who spent more than a decade in research, said there’s no question that fluoride is helpful for tooth and bone health and is safe at even twice the amount the village will be using.
William Lancaster, a retired dentist, said he saw the benefits of fluoride in the 40-plus years he practiced in Cobleskill.
Ironically, other dentists said, with more people drinking more bottled water, dentists are seeing a resurgence of dental decay.
Dawn Fiorillo, whose questions over whether the village was or wasn’t fluoridating a few months ago prompted the hearing, addressed it from a fiscal standpoint.
“You want efficiency in government, so do I,” she said. You have the chemical. Put it in.”
Because the village had already agreed to put the fluoride back in–it just hadn’t been done yet—no vote was required.
Residents will be notified of the change in their next water bills.
With that and required legal notices, it will likely by May before fluoride is back in the system, however.