A discussion over the use of fluoride in the City of Plattsburgh’s drinking water turned loud Thursday night.
Dr. Paul Connett, an opponent of fluoride in municipal drinking water systems, and Dr. Robert Heins, a local dentist, got into a face-to-face argument in the rotunda of City Hall following Connett’s 45-minute presentation to the Common Council.
“I don’t appreciate being called dishonest,” Connett told Heins in reference to comments Heins made at a city meeting last week where he called Connett a clown.
“I didn’t say you were dishonest, but I am the one who called you a clown,” Heins said.
Connett, executive director of the Fluoride Action Network in St. Lawrence County, showed councilors a number of slides that featured information against fluoride.
He claims that fluoride can cause dental fluorisis in children, which is the discoloring of teeth, lower intelligence quotients in children and can lead to hip fractures later in life.
“Fluoridation is poor medical practice, it is unethical and not necessary,” Connett said.
Connett pointed to a 507-page study released in 2006 by a 12-member panel that showed the dangers of fluoride and the limited health benefits.
The fact that the study was denounced by the American Dental Association and the Center for Disease Control agitated Connett.
“They (dentists) know a lot about teeth, but I’m not sure I want to trust them with my child’s brain,” Connett said.
Connett said that supporters of fluoride usually refer to studies against it as “junk science,” because they have no proof to debunk the studies.
He also said the dental profession is afraid of admitting fluoride is bad because they would open themselves up to liability issues.
Plattsburgh began fluoridating its water in 1956, around the same time that many communities across the country did so.
Councilors are considering removing fluoride from the water system and invited both sides to present arguments for and against fluoride.
Heins, who was joined by several other dentists and health professionals from the North Country, said fluoride does indeed help prevent tooth decay, and there are plenty of studies to show it.
“I hope the council will listen to the dentists and health officials who actually see patients every day in this community,” Heins said.
At the regular council meeting following the fluoride debate, resident Theresa Bennett said she strongly supports the use of fluoride in the city’s water.
“I see no reason why the CDC and the ADA would conspire to poison our children,” Bennett said.
“I hope you don’t give this (Connett’s argument) equal weight.”