The Corning City Council kept its word because a retired dentist kept his. And with two ends of the bargain tied up, council members made the right decision Monday by approving fluoridation of the city’s water system. Now the job is to make the project happen over the next year or possibly two.
The council did a good job of letting proponents and opponents air their concern about adding the tooth decay-fighting fluoride to the city’s drinking water, and when council members approved the fluoridation last fall, they added a condition. The private sector needed to put up $100,000 to match the other half of the cost that the city would bear.
Retired Corning dentist Dr. Thomas Curran spearheaded the fundraising campaign that apparently relied on a last-minute surge of donations to ensure that the private sector was vested in this project. Having come through as he did, Curran’s effort deserved nothing less than the City Council’s reaffirmation that it is ready to move forward with fluoridation.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called the fluoridation of drinking water systems one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century because of its impact on lowering tooth decay by as much as 60 percent. The American Dental Association has backed fluoridation since 1960. Opponents might label such staunch support as little more than ill-informed propaganda, but the fact is that an estimated 66 percent of Americans drink from fluoridated water supplies, according to the CDC, indicating that fluoridation is a widely accepted and longstanding practice.
To be fair to opponents, there are a number of studies that purport to show a link between fluoride and health problems such as dementia, cancer and the fragility of bones. But on balance the generally acknowledged benefits of fluoridation and its established use in many communities make this a safe venture for Corning.