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Communities choose fluoridation on Nov. 3

November 18, 2015

By Michelle Manchir

October and November saw movement at the ballot box and in city councils on community water fluoridation in at least five states.  Most favored the proven public health measure.

Here is a summary of some of the results:

Voters in Gloucester, Massachusetts, voted to retain community water fluoridation in their city of about 29,000 people. Of 9,176 votes cast, 5,989, or about 65 percent, voted to keep the program.

Photo of Dr. William Bebrin
Dr. Bebrin
Dr. William Bebrin, an orthodontist in Gloucester, spoke at public meetings before the vote and also helped organize an informational campaign with other local dentists and public health officials.

“Patients can relate to their trusted health care providers,” Dr. Bebrin said. “They trust their local physicians and dentists with their health and well-being. They value their opinions.”

With misrepresented scientific information about fluoride easily accessible and widely disseminated online, it is essential that health care professionals help the public understand the safety and efficacy of community water fluoridation, Dr. Bebrin said.

“We know we have the science behind us,” Dr. Bebrin said.

Two towns in Colorado will also continue community water fluoridation.

Voters in Hayden, Colorado, chose to retain fluoridation, with about 58 percent saying “no” to the ballot question “Shall the Town of Hayden stop adding fluoride into any Town of Hayden, Colorado, public water system?”

Dr. Sheena Schoch, a dentist in Hayden, called the victory “an amazing grassroots effort involving local clinic leaders in oral health, Colorado Dental Association, Oral Health Colorado, and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.”

The groups worked together on outreach to local committees, parents, patients and neighbors to “establish awareness and relationships,” she said.

More support for fluoride in Colorado came Oct . 22, when the village of Snowmass’ water and sanitation board voted to return fluoride to its community water system.

The board vote came after a customer survey revealed that most who took the survey — 63.17 percent — favored water fluoridation.

That survey, which followed a June board vote to cease water fluoridation, sparked the reverse decision.

Another October fluoride vote came in Inverness, Florida, when the Inverness City Council voted to keep its fluoridation program, and again Nov. 3 when voters in Lyerly, Georgia, did the same.

San Marcos, Texas, voters supported a different outcome — a measure that stops the city from adding fluoride to the water.

"We are disappointed in the outcome of the vote in San Marcos.  This should serve as a valuable lesson that proven oral health cannot be taken for granted,” said Dr. Delton Yarbrough, chair of Texas Dental Association’s Community Fluoride Committee.  “We must have active advocacy and continue to present the science and the facts. … We cannot let the science get elbowed out of the way, and as dentists, we need to double our efforts."

In the U.S., nearly 75 percent of people served by public water systems receive the benefit of fluoridated water. The ADA endorses the fluoridation of community water supplies as safe and effective for preventing tooth decay.

The ADA provides dentists, health care providers and others who recognize the safety and efficacy of community water fluoridation facts and information to share in their communities. For more information about water fluoridation, visit www.ada.org/fluoride or contact Jane McGinley, ADA manager of fluoridation and preventive health activities at by email at mcginleyj@ada.org.