Residents in the wealthy town town of Woodside are apparently prepared to take care of their teeth themselves.

Woodside’s Town Council, in a 6-1 vote on Tuesday, told San Francisco utilities officials that the town doesn’t want fluoride added to its water.

Woodside, like many other Peninsula communities, buys its water from San Francisco.

Fluoride is added to drinking water- and many brands of toothpaste – because it has been shown to prevent tooth decay.

For many years, however, those who believe the chemical does more harm than good have urged governments to stop adding fluoride to tap water. “Fluoridation to me is like second hand smoke,” Woodside council member Dave Tanner told the Daily News yesterday. “I’m deadly against it.” Only council member Paul Goeld voted against the resolution.

Fluoridation opponent Billie Barewald, a nurse who lives in Mountain View, said she hopes Woodside’s vote will encourage other towns to oppose fluoridation. “It’s good news because the Public Utilities Commission is putting pressure on everybody,” Barewald said. “Woodside will show other small towns that they can stand up to the commission.”

Palo Alto Council member Bern Beecham, who has a degree in chemical engineering and once worked for the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, said while mismanaged fluoridation systems have caused health problems, he doesn’t think fluoride is harmful when used appropriately. “I’ve read everything offered by opponents of fluoridation and I’ve come away still strongly believing that it’s an appropriate government policy,” Beecham said. “It’s been clear at
many levels that fluoridation provides benefits to consumers.”

Beecham also said the Palo Alto council hasn’t considered fluoridation and he doesn’t foresee it taking up the issue.

Two years ago, Mountain View voters approved fluoridation of that city’s water supply.

San Francisco is polling its customers about fluoride because it is in the process of rebuilding its water system. Currently, San Francisco has two water systems, only one of which is fluoridated. In the future, San Francisco will have one system that delivers water to the Peninsula.