A local state representative is using her knowledge in the dental health field to promote a bill regarding the fluoridation of water.
Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, is the sponsor of the fluoridation notification bill, which recently was approved by the House and taken up in the Senate.
The bill requires public water systems and water supply districts to notify the Department of Health and Senior Services, Department of Natural Resources and customers at least 90 days in advance of any meeting where a vote to modify the fluoridation of water in the system will take place.
The measure is identical to one Lichtenegger sponsored last year. It was voted out of committee in the Senate, but Lichtenegger said it was “caught in the last-minute rush” and didn’t receive the final readings necessary for final approval.
The representative, who has nearly 40 years of experience as a dental hygienist, said she expects this year’s bill to advance without many problems because “it’s pretty nonconfrontational.” It was passed out of the House, receiving just a single “no” vote.
In addition to her interest in dental health, Lichtenegger said she chose to sponsor the bill to allow more public input when it comes to changes in fluoridation.
“People should at least have the right to testify for or against,” she said.
Through her work in the dental field, she said she’s seen what a difference fluoride — or lack thereof — can make in a person’s health.
“There are some people who don’t like fluoride, and then we have people who take it out of the water system because they see it as a cost,” Lichtenegger said. “The problem is that when you do that, then the cost is really big, especially for children, but for some adults, too, with periodontal disease, because you really need the fluoride for certain dental diseases.”
She’s worked with dentists who would see children from areas where fluoride was removed from the water come in with cavities when they previously were cavity-free. Lichtenegger said people also deserve to know about changes in fluoride levels because too much fluoride can be a problem, too. Some studies have suggested a fluoridation level that is too high can lower children’s IQs.
Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, will carry the bill on the Senate floor. No hearing had been scheduled as of Tuesday. The measure is House Bill 119.