The Health Department board passed a resolution recently, acknowledging the public health benefits by the consumption of optimally fluoridated water and encouraging the city of Oneida to fluoridate its water supply.
The board said that fluoridation improves dental health and is the most cost-effective method for improving dental health.
President of the Madison County Board of Health John Endres said that tooth decay is a big concern and encouraged Oneida to think about the benefits of the measure.
“Tooth decay is a silent epidemic that results in pain and suffering and in increased health-care costs especially for children,” Endres said.
“Community water fluoridation is the single most effective pubic health measure to reduce tooth decay and improve dental health. I support fluoridation because it protects children’s health even when their parents are not acting responsibly.”
The Oneida-Madison Counties Preventive Dentistry Coalition approached the county Department of Health about fluoridating city water. The Coalition, along with Madison County Public Health Educator James Kinsella, approached the city Common Council last week in a worksession about the measure.
The public appears to be divided in its support and the council wanted the issue to go to a public referendum. City Attorney Neal Rose, however, said a referendum would go against the city charter.
Madison County Public Health Director David Dorrance said the benefits of fluoridation are evident during early childhood when dietary and home-care diversions place children at greater risk for dental problems.
“Scientific evidence indicates a clear association between water fluoridation and preventing tooth decay,” Dorrance said. “The benefits for children are well-documented. More than 50 years of scientific research has found fluoridation to be an inexpensive means of improving oral health that benefits all residents of a community, young and old, rich and poor.”
The Oneida water supply already contains some fluoride, but the board said it was less than optimal. More than 22,000 county residents are currently supplied by fluoridated water in Sullivan, Lenox, Hamilton and Morrisville.