Residents of the historic town of Jonesborough could soon have to turn to their toothpaste to see the benefits of fluoride. Jonesborough’s mayor and aldermen are set to discuss the possibility of removing fluoride from city taps in the coming months.

The town of Jonesborough is considering discontinuing the use of fluoride, which is a form of the chemical fluorine, which is traditionally added to public drinking water in order to help prevent tooth decay. The idea to discontinue using fluoride comes after Jonesborough’s board of mayor and alderman took a tour of the town’s water treatment plant.

Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe said, “It’s kind of a graphic situation.”

“You have a barrel of acid sitting there that literally eats a hole in the concrete if it drips on it and then the question is asked ‘Gee, what do you do with this?’ and we’re told ‘That is what goes in the water and creates the fluoride in your water’ and several of our board members thought at that point, ‘Is this something that we want to be adding to our water?’ and I think it’s a completely legitimate question.”

Residents like Ralph Haeberle say why fix what isn’t broken? He said, “I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s been around a long time … I’m not against it.”

Tennessee health officials are urging the town’s leaders to continue adding fluoride to the water supply. Northeast Tennessee’s Regional Health Director Alisa Cade said, “The application of fluoride in the water reduces dental caries or dental decay up to 25% over the lifetime of a person.” “So, it’s really a big benefit for every individual,” she said.

Wolfe did not take a stance as to whether he approved of banning the addition of fluoride to city water but did say the board is committed to discussing the possibility.  Wolfe said, “We’re completely open-minded about this and our goal is to make a decision based on what we feel is in the best interest of the folks who use Jonesborough water.”

Cade said not including fluoride in the water supply would be detrimental to the health of Jonesborough residents. She said, “It could impact the community across a lifespan of all individuals. Children’s teeth are being formed before they erupt into the mouth and they also would benefit throughout life.”

The town’s administrator bob browning said their water source is the Nolichucky river, which naturally contains small amounts of fluoride. Jonesborough Alderman Adam Dickson added, “I think it’s wise for us as a community to have a discussion. I think it’s good to hear all sides and extend the conversation so that we can make an informed decision.” Mayor Wolfe said the board will be discussing the topic further at their July meeting as their first priority is passing the budget in June.

Mayor Wolfe said the board will be discussing the topic further at their July meeting as their first priority is passing the budget in June.