A panel of doctors, dentists and Ph.D.s were unable to find common ground this week while debating the benefits of adding fluoride to the community’s drinking water.
That left Wellington’s newest council members doubtful about last year’s vote, before they were elected, to fluoridate Wellington’s water.
Councilwoman Linda Bolton and Councilman Mark Miles want a new vote – and they probably would vote against fluoride.
Whether the council rethinks the fluoride vote may rest with the one councilman who didn’t attend the forum, though. Councilman Al Paglia planned to review a tape of the meeting when he returns from vacation next week.
Mayor Tom Wenham came away wondering how the expert panelists could agree on so little. He was not immediately supportive of another vote.
Only Councilman Carmine Priore, a retired dentist, said he heard nothing to change his earlier vote to add fluoride to Wellington’s drinking water.
The council voted 4-1 in October to add fluoride to the city’s water supply. The lone dissenter, Kathy Foster, was defeated by Bolton in the March election.
Panel proponents included Dr. Robert Dumbaugh, dental director for the Palm Beach County Public Health unit; Dr. Jean Malecki, head of the health unit; and Dr. Michael Easley, director of the National Center for Fluoridation Policy and Research at State University of New York, Buffalo.
Speaking against fluoridated water were J. William Hirzy, senior scientist/chemist in the risk assessment division of the EPA; Dr. Hardy Limeback, associate professor and head of preventive dentistry at the University of Toronto; and Dr. Heim Roberts, a local internist.
While supporters argue the addition of a half part per million in Wellington’s drinking water would prevent and reduce dental decay and cavities, opponents argue the one-size dose recommended by the American Dental Association does not fit all and harms some people.
“There was too much emphasis on trying to outdo each other,” Wenham said.
Miles says there should be another vote.
“This needs to be brought back, discussed and debated. Right now, I’m leaning toward not fluoridating because there certainly are other alternatives.” He said his own son, who was raised in Wellington, has mild fluorosis, a discoloring of the teeth caused by excess fluoride.
Priore, who said he’s satisfied with the vote the council took, said he hopes the rest of the council looks at the background of the speakers.
“I would ask everybody to make their decision on the scientific facts,” he said.