More than 700 dentists and dental hygienists from across the country are in Portland this week for a national conference on oral health. As Kristian Foden-Vencil reports, Oregon’s continuing refusal to put fluoride in the drinking water is drawing attention.
When San Diego and San Jose begin to put fluoride in their water this year, Portland will be the biggest city in the nation not to fluoridate.
Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first, in 1945. Now about 70 percent of the population drinks fluoridated water.
Doctor Gordon Empey is a dental consultant to Oregon. He says not fluoridating causes significant problem.
Gordon Empey: “Half of our children go to first grade with dental decay. Two thirds of our kids by the third grade have dental decay. We’re worse than Washington, We’re worse than Idaho. We’re worse than California and Alaska. So it’s a significant problem in Oregon.”
Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water say peer-reviewed science has raised health concerns about the chemical.
Members also say fluoride can be a problem for salmon and other aquatic life.
© 2009 OPB