Dover City Councilor Catherine Cheney wants to refight an old fight — over adding fluoride to Dover’s drinking water.

This time, however, she wants a referendum vote which will let residents say no to fluoride in Dover’s municipal water supply.

We appreciate, as should our readers, concerns about the safety of Dover’s water supply. But if we are going to debate the use of fluoride it should not be through an emotionally charged plebiscite. Rather, the City Council should appoint a committee of knowledgeable individuals capable of researching and logically adjudicating the issue.

And the first place they should start is with the information still available from the last time Dover went round and round on the issue of fluoridation — yet decided to maintain the program.

That debate took place in large part on the pages of this newspaper back in 2011 into 2012.

Interestingly, Councilor Cheney today now echoes many of the points made at the time by critics of fluoridation — ill-health including Alzheimer’s disease, thyroid disease, various cancers, and bone deformities.

In like fashion, reader John Meinhold wrote in a 2011 letter to the editor: “Children that have ‘pitted’ teeth from excess fluoride are actually prone to cavities since food particles can accumulate in the pitted areas. The irony here is that this is exactly what the fluoride is supposed to be preventing!”

But unlike Cheney, Meinhold went on to call on then-Gov. John Lynch to “issue a cease-and-desist order to stop all fluoridation of New Hampshire public drinking water systems, and New Hampshire’s congressional delegation should call for hearings on this important public health issue.

Thankfully, that did not happen and neither did Dover decide to stop fluoridating its water. And for good reason.

From an April 19, 2011 letter by Puneet Kochhar, DMD, of the Alliance for Dental Care and then-First Vice President, N.H. Dental Society:

“Based on their research, leading health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Dental Association and the American Medical Association recommend fluoridated water as a safe and effective way to prevent tooth decay. In fact, the CDC recognized water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”

He continued:

“The fluoridation of public water systems in the U.S. is simply the precise adjustment of the existing, naturally occurring fluoride levels in drinking water to an optimal level recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service for the prevention of tooth decay. Multiple studies on U.S. community water fluoridation have proven that it continues to be effective in reducing dental decay by 20 to 40 percent in children and adults and, for most cities, every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves about $38 in dental treatment costs.”

But if we are going to have the emotionally ladened debate a referendum would produce, there is this from a May 8, 2012 letter to the editor by David B. Staples, DDS, of the Garrison Family Dental in Dover:

“The real issue here is how do we care for the less fortunate citizens of our communities who don’t have the accessibility or means to good dental care and nutrition. This vulnerable group is the reason why we continue to support water fluoridation.”

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