Fluoridation in Washington community to continue — for now
January 12, 2016
Port Angeles, Washington
— The city council here in December voted 4-3 to retain water fluoridation for this community of about 19,200, despite outspoken resistance from some residents.
"The people who spoke on behalf of fluoride were not paid lobbyists, they were our local doctors, dentists," said council member Cherie Kidd before supporting the continuation of fluoridation in the city for 10 more years. She added that, "Stopping fluoride for the people of Port Angeles would be taking a step back; a huge mistake. … Government does have a role in promoting and protecting health and safety by implementing effective public health measures."
The vote continues a 10-year fluoridation program that would have ended May 18.
With the vote, the fluoridation program will continue until June 30, 2026.
Ms. Kidd and other council members who voted for water fluoridation cited their trust in local health care providers, including Drs. Brianne Butler and Todd Irwin, who addressed them and residents who attended public information sessions and meetings earlier this year.
Dr. Irwin, a private practice dentist in Port Angeles, said in addition to speaking at public meetings he also met with council members individually to educate them about fluoride.
"We approached them with facts and science," he said.
Dr. Butler added, "We all care about the community, and we support community water fluoridation because it is a preventive measure for citizens who may not have access to dental care — or knowledge related to how to prevent cavities."
The water fluoridation vote came after the city paid for a nonbinding advisory poll among city water utility customers. Of 9,762 polls mailed in early November, 4,204 were returned, with 2,381 votes, or about 57 percent, in opposition to water fluoridation, and about 41 percent, or 1,735 votes, in favor, according to city documents.
The issue may resurface in the city. The city council will again discuss the issue at its Jan. 19 meeting during its meeting and has directed city staff to come up with "some alternatives to fluoridation," the city's manager, Dan McKeen, told a local radio station in January.
Drs. Irwin and Butler said they would continue to be involved and help protect public health.
The ADA endorses the fluoridation of community water supplies as safe and effective for preventing tooth decay. The Association, along with state and local dental societies, continues to work with federal, state, local agencies and community coalitions to increase the number of communities benefiting from water fluoridation.
For more information from the ADA about water fluoridation, ADA.org/Fluoride
or contact Jane McGinley, ADA manager of fluoridation and preventive health activities, at email@example.com