Doing away with fluoride in the city water system was the topic of discussion during Monday’s Forsyth Board of Aldermen meeting.
Mayor Karl Smith said the city is currently using the last of its supply to fluoridate the system. He told the board he would like the ordinance requiring water fluoridation to be repealed because he said studies show water fluoridation has no benefits.
“It is a poison,” he said, “and it was first used as rat poison. Fluoride is a medication and we are mandating it on residents. Nobody has better teeth from it, and no one has knowledge of the detriments of using fluoride. I think we should repeal this ordinance and take the fluoride out of the water.”
Alderman Buddy Roberts said he is not in favor of removing fluoride from the city’s water system.
“I’m totally against it,” he said. “People do have a choice. They can boil their water or buy distilled water. To my knowledge, no one in Forsyth has died from fluoridation.”
But Smith said it would be more feasible if the city did away with the water fluoridation, giving city residents a choice to buy fluoridation tablets or fluoridated water to drink.
According to the American Dental Association, fluoride was first introduced into a public water system in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Mich., to promote oral health. A study conducted after 15 years of fluoridation in Grand Rapids revealed children who consumed fluoridated water from birth had 50 to 63 percent less tooth decay than children who were examined during the first survey before fluoridation began.
If fluoridation is discontinued, the ADA says dental decay can be expected to increase if it is discontinued for more than one year, even if fluoride toothpastes and fluoride rinses are used.
Paul Connett, Ph.D., author of Red Flags-A Carefully Filtered Guide Separating Substance From Hype (sic), said fluoridation of water systems is unethical and unnecessary.
According to Connett, water fluoridation violates the rights of individuals to consent to medication; ignores the fact that some people are more vulnerable to fluoride’s toxic effects than others, and violates the Nuremberg code for human experimentation.
He adds that it is unnecessary to add fluoride to public water systems because children can have perfectly good teeth without being exposed to fluoride; children in non-fluoridated communities are already getting the optimal doses from other sources and many are overexposed; and that in western Europe, they have rejected water fluoridation while at the same time being successful in tackling tooth decay.
Roberts said although Smith may have some information about the detriments of fluoride, he still believes water fluoridation improves oral health.
“There are too many kids out there that cannot afford to go to the dentist for fluoride treatments or cannot afford fluoride toothpastes that rely on the water to get their fluoride to them,” Roberts said. “If it helps the teeth of one child, then we should keep it going.”
Taney County Health Department Director Jim Berry said water fluoridation is supported by the ADA and many dentists, and that it is needed in the city and the county.
“One of our main jobs is to prevent such contagious diseases or if there is a health benefit from using something, then to provide it to the public,” Berry said. “It certainly wouldn’t be our job to allow something to be put into the water that is detrimental to the public’s health.”
Berry said the department’s Dental Clinic sees 2,000 children each year who have decaying teeth, which he says may be partly due to a lack of fluoridation in the county’s water systems.
Alderwoman Cheryl Altis is in favor of removing the fluoridation, but has asked for the public to voice its opinion in writing. The board is to address this issue again at a Jan. 17 meeting.