The ongoing debate over the use of fluoride in drinking water is coming to Susanville.
Recently, Dr. Paul Holmes, co-chairman of the Lassen Health Task Force and medical director of Northeastern Rural Health Clinics, made a presentation to the Lassen County Board of Supervisors detailing the degree of dental decay in Westwood.
Holmes explained to the supervisors there is a “huge epidemic” in Lassen County.
In a letter to Supervisor Bob Pyle, Holmes said, “Even I, as a medical provider, had no idea of the breadth and intensity of this problem.”
In his concluding remarks Holmes said the use of fluoride would have prevented much of the decay.
And that position is shared by the American Dental Association who said on its Internet Web site, fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter, occurring in the earth’s crust, in combination with other minerals in rocks and soil.
Small amounts of fluoride occur naturally in all water sources, and varying amounts of the mineral are found in all foods and beverages.
Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the natural level of fluoride to a concentration sufficient to protect against tooth decay. Thanks in large part to community water fluoridation, half of children ages 5 to 17 have never had a cavity in their permanent teeth.
Fluoride’s benefits are particularly important for those people, especially children, who lack adequate access to dental care.
Water fluoridation has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th Century.
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher wrote in his report, Oral Health in America, “Community water fluoridation is safe and effective in preventing dental caries in both children and adults. Water fluoridation benefits all residents served by community water supplies regardless of their social or economic status.”
If Fluoride is to be used in Susanville, the matter would have to be approved by the City Council.
City Administrator Newell Sorensen said he doesn’t see that happening anytime soon.
“There are no plans at this time to bring that issue before the council,” Sorensen said.
The use of fluoride could be brought to the ballot as it was in Washoe County last year.
However when it did, the voters in that county voted no to fluoride in their water system by a vote of 57.9 to 47 percent as reported in the Reno Gazette-Journal on Nov. 6, 2002.