Up until Monday, Fort Smith was the largest city in the state without fluoridated water flowing through its pipes.
But crews started adding the chemical to treatment plants in Van Buren and in Mountainburg Monday morning, where Fort Smith and some other local cities have their drinking water treated.
As per a law passed by the state Legislature in 2011, all cities with a population of 5,000 people or more are now required to add fluoride to their community’s water supply.
Although some have expressed concerns about health effects, according to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control (CDC), “No convincing scientific evidence has been found linking community water fluoridation with any potential adverse health effects…”
The CDC goes on to say, “Water fluoridation…ultimately reduces tooth decay by about 25 percent iBion children and adults.”
Two Fort Smith mothers said it’s the benefit to their kids’ oral health that makes them happy to see fluoride now in the city’s drinking water along with the added convenience of no longer needing to provide fluoride drops for their kids as supplements.
“I think it’s great because I’ve had to give my toddler fluoride drops ever since he was an infant. So you know, it’s one less thing to have to stress about when it comes to tooth decay,” said Maryann Bumpers.
“This will make it easier. We don’t actually have to give them those fluoride drops now,” said Emily Petty.
By Tuesday morning, the fluoride will be present throughout the Fort Smith water supply. But if residents insist on not wanting any fluoride in their water, the city’s Water Department said homeowners can purchase metal filters to install on faucets.
The price tag for adding the fluoride totals up to nearly $2 million for startup costs, but all except roughly $100,000 of it was paid for with a grant from Delta Dental of Arkansas.