BOISE – A resolution was introduced Tuesday into the Idaho House recognizing the dental health benefits of fluoridated water.

The resolution recognizes the “significant public health effort” and the role Idaho played in the development of a scientific understanding of fluoride, sponsor Rep. Kelly Packer, R-McCammon, told the Health and Welfare Committee. When Oakley built a communal water pipe to a warm springs in 1923, brown stains began appearing on residents’ teeth. It turned out to be because of high levels of fluoride in the water. In low levels, though, fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay, Packer said.

Only a few cities in Idaho add fluoride to their water because in much of Idaho, including much of the Magic Valley, the water is naturally fluoridated.

“This is not a mandate,” Packer stressed. “I wouldn’t be involved if it was.”

Minority Leader John Rusche, a Democrat from Lewiston, said his father was a dentist in Wisconsin in the 1950s and 1960s, when fluoridation was being debated.

“The data is irrefutable that fluoride promotes strong teeth and prevents infections and cavities,” Rusche said.

Rusche said he likes that Idaho leaves the decision on whether to fluoridate up to municipalities.

“It allows localities to have a local option on their policies, something that we don’t always understand here in this legislative body,” he said.

The committee voted unanimously to send the resolution to the full House’s second reading calendar, which skips holding a full committee hearing.