Despite appeals from the Prairie North Health Region, Meadow Lake city council appears to be going ahead with plans to scrap the city’s water fluoridation program.
Ashley White, Prairie North’s dental health educator, spoke to council June 27 in an attempt to convince it to reconsider plans to end the community fluoridation program.
Meadow Lake has been fluoridating drinking water since 1997 as a preventative dental health measure.
“Discontinuation will have significant negative health impacts on the already poor oral health of Meadow Lake and Flying Dust reserve,” White told council.
Meadow Lake is the last community to have a water fluoridation in the Prairie North region.
Many other centres around the province, including Saskatoon, are reviewing their fluoridation programs.
“Does that mean we’re smarter than the rest?” Coun. Jeff Fechter wondered at council. “Or does that mean we’re behind the ball?”
Coun. Toby Esterby, who originally brought the issue to the table, believes there are better ways to improve dental health, including fluoride mouth rinse programs in schools, as well as better dental health education.
Esterby added it’s his understanding that water fluoridation is the reason Meadow Lake doesn’t have these programs.
In fact, as far as he’s concerned, the impact of drinking water fluoridation borders on redundancy.
“I don’t think there will be any impact at all,” Esterby said of the decision to cancel the program, “other than we (will) have a small, incremental advantage that we can apply to other things in our budget.”
White said Prairie North would implement other measures if community fluoridation was ended, such as a fluoride rinse or a fluoride varnish program – when a topical fluoride is painted on the teeth.
She already runs a varnish program in the city every three months for six-month to six-year-olds. However, she noted expanding that program would substantially exceed the cost of water fluoridation.
White told council that implementing a fluoride rinse program would cost a minimum of $3,700 dollars annually, compared to the $3,000 dollars it costs to fluoridate water.
“If it’s a case of costing,” she said, “you’re not going to be saving the taxpayer any money.”
As well, since budgets have already been finalized for this year, there will be a period where Meadow Lake will have no fluoridation whatsoever.
Coun. Fechter noted it’s his view the dental health of the area isn’t being helped by the fluoridation, considering the community still suffers from poor dental health.
But White contended cancelling the program will only make it worse. She hopes the city can make an informed decision and see the health benefits the program has for the community.
While the presentation was taken under advisement, Esterby doesn’t believe council will change its mind on fluoridation.
“In my mind, the issue has had a decision made on it,” he said.
The city is planning to use up the remaining supply of fluoride, expected to last another month, before discontinuing the program.