Ironwood City Commission authorized adding fluoridation to the city’s water system and applying for a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services fluoridation equipment grant at their regular meeting on Monday.
City Manager Scott Erickson said the city is designing a water treatment plant in the city of Ironwood and one of the topics that they are discussing is supplementing the level of fluoride in the water system. Erickson said that about 89% of the population in Michigan has fluorinated water, including the neighboring city of Wakefield.
The city commission heard recommendations on this item from health care professionals who attended the meeting via Zoom. These professionals were Sandy Sutton, MDHHS community water fluorination coordinator; Christine Farrell, MDHHS oral health director; and Russell Dunkel, dental director for the state of Wisconsin.
“Water fluorination, in a nutshell, is just supplementing the level of fluoride in a public water system to make it optimal for your oral health,” Sutton said. “Fluoride is a natural mineral. It exists in the earth and both in our ground water and surface water bodies, in fresh water and in salt water. In salt water, it’s a fairly consistent 1.2 to 1.4 parts per million, but in fresh water, it can range from barely there to over 10 parts per million.”
Sutton said that fluoride works in three ways to benefit oral health: it destroys the main bacteria strain that causes cavities in the mouth, bonds ionically to teeth and strengthens weakened enamel and acts as a desensitizer to sensitive teeth and nerves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the optimum range for fluoride is .6 to 1 parts per million. Sutton said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation starts at the lowest possible amount to have an effect on the mouth and stops at a point where there isn’t any additional benefit to putting more fluoride in the water. She said that the Environmental Protection Agency’s and the state of Michigan’s secondary maximums are both two parts per million.
Sutton said that the city of Wakefield supplements their municipal water system so that their residents receive .7 parts of fluoride per million. She said that Ironwood’s natural water content is .16 parts per million.
The CDC has listed the fluorination of water as one of the top 10 public health achievements in the U.S., Sutton said.
Dunkel said that adding fluoridation to the municipal water system can be extremely valuable to individuals who are below poverty levels.
“One of the issues we’ve been dealing with COVID — especially for both Medicaid and other underinsured individuals — is access to care within the dental system has taken an even bigger hit than it did pre-COVID. For many of these individuals, water fluoridation may be their only dental access for several months to come because they can’t get appointments to get in to see a dentist or dental hygienist,” Dunkel said.
Mayor Kim Corcoran asked if the MDHHS equipment grant would offset the costs of adding fluoridation to the water system. Erickson said the cost is estimated at $20,000 and the grant covers up to $24,000. A motion to authorize adding fluoridation and applying for the grant carried unanimously.
In other business, the city commission…
*Original article online at https://www.yourdailyglobe.com/story/2021/11/24/news/ironwood-authorizes-fluoridation-of-water-system/16115.html