HAMILTON — Officials in the Village of Hamilton held an informational meeting to hear the pros and cons of continuing to fluoridate the municipal water supply on Tuesday evening, April 28 in the Hamilton library. For approximately two hours village board members, members of the Municipal Utilities Commission (MUC) and several interested village residents listened to lengthy presentations on both sides of the issue.
Mayor Sue McVaugh reminded those attending that the purpose was “informational and fact finding” and that a decision will not be made for some time.
“We’ve only been wrestling with this for two years and we’re continuing on that path tonight,” said Ed Hotaling, president of the MUC.
Harvard [sic: should be Cambridge or Dartmouth] graduate Paul Connett, Ph.D., executive director of the Fluoride Action Network and professor emeritus of chemistry at St. Lawrence University, offered the opposing point of view.
Connett listed numerous reasons why municipalities should not use fluoride including unsafe levels of consumption, inefficiency as 99.5 percent goes down the drain, unneeded for healthy teeth, discoloration of teeth in some individuals, the presence of warnings discouraging the amount of fluoride use on toothpaste labels and more.
“You can control the concentration of fluoride in the water but you can’t control the dosage,” he said, adding that the more an individual drinks, the higher the intake.
Connett suggested alternatives such as better education on care of teeth, free toothbrushes, and perhaps the availability of bottled water containing fluoride in local stores.
“This would allow people to have a choice and give them a safer, controlled dose if they choose to use it,” he said.
Speaking in favor of fluoride treatment was Jayanth (Jay) Kumar, DDS, MPH, director of the oral health surveillance & research unit at the Bureau of Dental Health at the New York State Department of Health.
Kumar explained that fluoridation is a “well-known preventative” that will not solve tooth decay but will significantly reduce the magnitude of the problem.
“It reduces cavities, it saves money in the cost of dental care, and the benefits can last a lifetime,” he added.
Kumar also said that his opinions are based on actual studies rather than controlled observations.
“You need to look at all studies and combined results. Fluoride works best when delivered frequently and in small doses,” Komar continued. “Only 50 percent of children see a dentist regularly and it’s necessary to prevent as much as possible.”
For more on either side of the fluoridation issue visit www.fluoridealert.org or www.nyhealth.gov/prevention/dental/