Adding fluoride to the water system is the safest, most equitable and cost-effective way to distribute it, heard New Tecumseth council Monday night.
A group of Canadian dental experts highlighted these points at a committee of the whole meeting after learning council had told town staff to take the necessary steps to end fluoridation of the water system in Tottenham. The motion to remove the fluoride was started by Tottenham Coun. Jim Stone, who said fluouride has been linked to some cancers and there is no proof of people having fewer cavities in areas where fluoride is added to the water.
Council has now decided to rescind their earlier decision and allow the fluoridation process to continue.
“It was very disturbing when I read in the paper that people had voted in favour of removing fluoride from our water without knowing other information,” said former Tottenham Reeve and New Tecumseth Deputy Mayor Joan Sutherland.
“If fluoride was as much of a poison, I should be dead because I have been drinking tap water for 36 years, and still do.”
The decision to add fluoride into Tottenham’s water system was made in 1973 and was voted on by the residents during the municipal election that year. It is the only community in Simcoe County to add fluoride to the water supply.
When the motion to end fluoridation was brought up this March town staff believed the only step to remove it was to apply to the Ministry of Environment to amend a certificate of approval for the fluoridation practice.
A report from manager of public works Chad Horan this week said council is also required to pass a bylaw to discontinue fluoridating the water. The Fluoridation Act also says that a question may be put to the public before passing a bylaw, although it’s not required.
Muskoka-Simcoe Dental Society president Gerry Ross has lived in Tottenham for 38 years and has had a dental practice in the community since 1971, before the fluoridation practice started. Ross said he was disappointed Stone, Ross’s local councillor, didn’t come to him for more information before introducing the fluoridation removal motion to council.
“What I see in my practice is a tremendous difference in teeth in children in Tottenham and those from Beeton, Alliston and other surrounding areas,” said Ross.
Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit medical officer of health, said the evidence supporting fluoridation and that was provided by the dental experts at the meeting is based on systematic reviews, not a selective review. He said the first involves careful research and examining all relevant articles whereas a selective review picks and chooses information to prove a point.
Gardner said fluoridation reduces tooth decay 20 to 40 per cent in the population at large and that there is no consistent, strong or relevant evidence to suggest fluoride is linked to an increase in cancers, kidney disease or other diseases. It can cause mild fluorosis, which is light white marks on the teeth usually only visible to dental professionals.
Oral Health in Simcoe Muskoka, a SMDHU study, shows a trend of tooth decay in children. It shows 40 per cent of five-year-olds and 60 per cent of seven-year-olds have tooth decay in the SMDHU area. Overall, the oral health of five, seven and nine-year-olds in the region ranked in the bottom 15 to 30 per cent of the health units in Ontario.
“Our trend is not a positive trend, it’s of concern,” said Gardner.
The SMDHU recommends fluoride being available to all residents on municipally supplied drinking water.
Along with the Simcoe-Muskoka Dental Society and SMDHU support of maintaining Tottenham’s fluoridation, the Ontario Dental Association, Ontario Association of Public Health Dentistry, Health Canada, and the immediate past president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry were at the meeting to advocate the importance of fluoridation.
“(Flouridation) has been researched to death and back and it has been guaranteed to be very safe,” said Peter Cooney, chief dental officer for Health Canada.
Stone said he doesn’t trust Health Canada though.
“One of the reasons I don’t respect the stats of Health Canada is that I believe that they support the giant corporations (drugs, food and chemical) in this country,” said Stone in a written report to council.
Stone said his concerns extend beyond dental health.
“Dentists always talk about teeth and they didn’t seem to talk about the holistic affects that fluoride has for you,” said Stone.
He believes fluoride is a deadly poison that does much harm to your body.
New Tecumseth has two water systems. Alliston and Beeton get their water supply from the Collingwood-Alliston pipeline and Tottenham has its own well system.
According to a town report the fluoridation question was put on the municipal ballot for Alliston and Beeton in 1976 and voted down. If the question is put to Tottenham residents about fluoridation, the report said the question could also be put to Alliston and Beeton.
Adding fluoridation into Alliston and Beeton’s water supply would be more difficult than in Tottenham as there are at least seven stations that would need to have fluoridation systems installed, as well as receiving Ministry of Environment approval, according to the town report.