IRON MOUNTAIN — Dennis Santini has been practicing dentistry in Kingsford for the last 30 years.
Like many dentists and organizations including the American Dental Association and the Center for Disease Control, Santini is a strong believer in the benefits of fluoridated water.
“You look at the actual science of water fluoridation and the history of water fluoridation,” he said. “It has been proven to be very, very effective, safe, and inexpensive when compared restoring the damage caused by tooth decay.”
Santini also feels fluoride can help prevent demineralization in teeth especially due to the amount of pop and junk food available to kids.
“The tooth decay problem in our area right now is far worse than when I was a young dentist,” Santini said. “It’s a tragedy to be going backwards, it really is. We should be doing a much better job of helping our patients prevent tooth decay and fluoridated water is one of the most effective ways to do that.”
Several U.P. communities like Norway and Escanaba have been adding fluoride to their water.
So what’s the problem? A growing number of studies are questioning the effectiveness and safety of fluoride including whether it is an ethical issue.
Iron Mountain has never added fluoride to its water.
The issue has been raised several times in the past and most recently in 1989 when voters rejected fluoridating the water supply in the city charter.
Iron Mountain City Councilman Ted Corombos is strongly against fluoridating water.
He said certain studies show no difference in tooth decay was found between a fluoridated and non-fluoridated community and he feels fluoride is available in other forms like toothpaste and mouthwash.
“There’s no reason to fluoridate it,” he said. “There’s possible harm but no good. Practically nothing significant will change as far as the decay rate.”
In addition, Corombos feels there are ethical questions with mass medicating an entire population.
“I’ve never seen anybody yet go from anti to pro fluoride,” Corombos said. “But many, many medical professionals have gone from being pro-fluoride going the other way…including 1500 scientists at the EPA.”
So will Iron Mountain ever revisit the issue again? The language against fluoride is in the Iron Mountain charter.
But a petition with more than 900 signatures would be needed before residents could vote on the issue again.