In spite of the entreaties of as respected a public servant as Councilor Amy Valentine, we implore the City of Plattsburgh not to stop fluoridating the water until somebody with more clout than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it.
Valentine and a few others have urged the city to stop putting tooth-decay-preventive doses of fluoride into the water that comes out of city taps. The authority cited by Valentine and others is Paul Connett, executive director of the Fluoride Action Network in St. Lawrence County, who claims that 23 studies, many in India and China, show the material could diminish IQ scores in children. Also, too much fluoride can actually damage teeth, he adds.
Offsetting that evidence, if you’re generous enough to call it that, is the CDC and the American Dental Association, both of which hail fluoridation as one of the 20th century’s greatest public-health developments.
In Plattsburgh, fluoride has been added to the water supply, one drop at a time, since 1956. In that time, no one we know of has demonstrated that children’s brains have been fogged, though local dentists attest to substantial gains against tooth decay.
The Town of Plattsburgh entertained a similar debate about two decades ago and learned that the opponents of fluoridation were led by a dentist. These days, dentists are apparently more enlightened. Even though they could undoubtedly point to fluoride as being counter to their financial interests, they are leading the chorus for fluoridation because they see the sublime benefits to children’s teeth.
Plattsburgh has been heralded for its treatment program, winning a Water Fluoridation Quality award from the CDC in 2007. By itself, that would not be reason enough to retain the program in the face of controversy.
But the real question is which side do you trust. The CDC, ADA and local dentists have heartily endorsed the fluoridation. Studies of unknown reliability in China, India and perhaps elsewhere hardly negate those endorsements.
Legitimate reasons to be suspicious have simply not been brought forward. Had the past 50 years demonstrated that Plattsburgh had turned out a significant percentage of poorly developed brains, less enthusiasm for the program might be warranted. But we haven’t seen that kind of medical history.
Before the city ends a treatment program that has met with such success, far more evidence of risk must be provided. As it is, all the city has to show for its treatments is sturdier teeth.
Councilor Valentine has been a clarion voice of reason in the past. On this one, she seems to be badly out of harmony with people who have the city’s best interests in mind.