Community health agencies, local dentists and national dental health advocates voiced concerns over the plan to stop.
Sean Lanier, the city’s director of engineering and water resources, said support for continuing the addition of fluoride to Ocala’s tap water was nearly unanimous. Community health agencies, local dentists and national dental health advocates voiced their concerns over the plan to stop fluoridation.
“The city’s mission statement basically says we will provide the services the community wants,” Lanier said. “There was no one from the public that showed up for it (stopping fluoridation).”
So, the city amended its recommendation removing the provision to stop fluoridation. Now, the proposed ordinance, which still requires approval from the City Council, ties the amount of fluoridation to what is required in the state statute and recommended levels from the Florida Department of Health.
The current city ordinance set the level of fluoridation at 1 milligram per liter of water. The DOH recommends .7 milligrams per liter. While the city was following the DOH recommendations, they were not complying with their ordinance, Lanier said.
Fluoridation of community drinking water in the United States began in the 1940s as a way to reduce tooth decay. Today, the majority of public water supplies get fluoridated to 0.7 milligrams per liter, the optimal amount considered effective for preventing tooth decay.
While too much fluoride can cause health issues, the level at which those issues come up is well above the level most people are ever exposed to, said Dr. Johnny Johnson, president of the American Fluoridation Society.
Even at levels of six times above the recommended fluoride intake, the most serious side effect could be dental fluorosis, which can stain teeth, Johnson said.
On Wednesday, the city’s Utility Advisory Board unanimously agreed to recommend an amended ordinance that would continue water fluoridation.
“I am very pleased with the outcome and the decision made by the Utility Advisory Board. They listened to the input of the community and the professional healthcare community,” Johnson said.
Lanier’s initial concerns that the city could be contributing to too much fluoride intake were tempered by anecdotal information from local dental health care providers.
“The patients that I see that are on city water have many fewer cavities than those living out in the county on well water. Fluoridated water reduces cavities by 25 to 50 percent. It’s very important to have fluoridated water. It not only coats the teeth but get into the enamel of the developing tooth and makes the tooth stronger,” said Dr. Suzi Thiems-Heflin, an Ocala pediatric dentist.
Dr. Lee Anne Keough, an endodontist in Ocala, gives a similar report.
“I don’t see a large amount of decay from our community within the city. I see it from the surrounding communities that are not fluoridated,” Keough said. “It speaks for itself.”
Public health experts consider community water fluoridation one of the greatest public health successes of the 20th century. Fluoride is naturally present in water, many foods and even in bottled drinks. The intake of fluoride has risen over the years, thanks to the use of fluoride-containing toothpaste and mouthwash in addition to fluoridated water.
The revised Ocala ordinance is set for introduction on May 21 during the City Council meeting. It will come up for discussion and final vote at the council meeting on June 4.
*Original article online at https://www.ocala.com/news/20190503/ocala-backs-off-plan-to-stop-fluoridation-of-city-tap-water