Bay County health officials have asked Lynn Haven city officials to consider adding fluoride to the city water system.
Lynn Haven is the only municipality in Bay County that currently does not add fluoride or have enough natural fluoride concentration in its water for an optimal level to prevent cavities.
Lynn Haven Mayor Walter Kelley said the city is looking into the request but still has unanswered questions about the costs and desire of residents to have fluoride added to their water system. He said many people get the proper amounts of fluoride from their toothpaste or regularly scheduled dentist appointments.
“We are not saying yes, but we are not saying no,” Kelley said.
The Community Health Task Force and its subcommittee, the Dental Strategic Planning Committee, have identified dental health as a major area of concern for Bay County. The committee sent an e-mail with a letter to Kelley and health providers in the community on July 12 and a follow up e-mail with research on Monday; both letters asked for the city officials to considering adding fluoride to its water system.
“I was disappointed the e-mail went out before we could set up a meeting with health officials,” Kelley said. “They are trying to put pressure on the city of Lynn Haven.”
Lynn Haven city staff met with Bay County Health Department Administrator Doug Kent on Thursday. The mayor said the city staff will continue to ask questions, look at the cost and try to determine what is best for the citizens of Lynn Haven.
The Dental Strategic Planning Committee has determined there are about 18,000 children in Bay County on Medicaid with little or no access to dental care. The group also presented research showing that an optimal level of fluoride in the water decreases cavities in children by 20 to 40 percent.
Mary Matthews with the Bay County Health Department and the dental committee said state grants are available for cities to add fluoride.
Health and dental professionals want the substance added to water because it helps fight cavities and its use dates to 1645 [sic].
“Fluoride naturally occurs in many community water systems. … It helps build strong bones and teeth,” said Dr. Jolene Paramore, a local dentist. “If you have it at an optimal level, there have been no harmful effects to humans or animals. If there’s too much naturally occurring in well waters, it can be problematic and it can discolor teeth.”
Nearly 60 percent of the nation’s water supply contains fluoride, she said.
There are three smaller water systems in the county — Bay Behavioral Hope Program, DeerHaven Mobile Home Party and the Lisenby Mobile Home Park — that do not have optimal levels of fluoride.
Mexico Beach has a high natural occurrence of fluoride in the water and individuals in that community typically have no decay, Paramore said.
“I would strongly encourage Lynn Haven officials to take advantage of the services available to add fluoride to the water system,” Paramore said.