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Massachusetts towns remain fluoridated

Templeton, Mass.—For the third straight year, voters in Templeton, Mass., a town of about 8,000 located about 60 miles west of Boston, overwhelmingly rejected an article to stop fluoridating its water supply.

Voters at the Templeton town meeting May 21 also rejected two additional citizen petition articles on fluoridation; one requiring the local water provider to place a notice in water bills informing customers that Templeton's water is fluoridated and could cause dental fluorosis in children under age 6; and one that would have created a bylaw requiring town meeting approval of fluoridation.

On the state's southern coast, voters in Duxbury opted to continue fluoridating the town's water supply. After an hour of discussion at a town meeting March 11 that included two local dentists speaking in favor of fluoridation, voters in this Boston suburb rejected a bid to stop fluoridation.

"As dentists, our first concern is our patients' health," said Dr. Robert A. Faiella, ADA president. "It's difficult to watch people suffer needlessly from a disease that could have been prevented with access to fluoridated water."

Dr. Faiella, who has a dental practice in Duxbury, sent a letter supporting continued fluoridation to the town's board of health in February.

The board also received information on the safety and efficacy of community water fluoridation from the ADA and the World Health Organization. Duxbury has been fluoridated for more than a quarter of a century.

"The bottom line is that community water fluoridation remains the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.

"That is why organizations such as the American Dental Association, as well as more than 100 other international organizations, recognize the public health benefits of fluoridation."

In North Carolina, Graham and Mebane, two towns in Alamance County that share a water system, examined the issue of fluoridation after the Graham City Council voted to stop fluoridating.

The Mebane City Council collected input from residents and health experts, including several local dentists, before voting unanimously in March to continue fluoridating.  Since both communities would have to agree to stop fluoridating, Mebane's positive vote meant fluoridation will continue.

"Dentists need to be prepared to deal with fluoridation challenges," said Dr. Steve Slott, a dentist in nearby Burlington, N.C., and one of the dentists who provided scientific information and testimony to the Mebane City Council.

"Our dental credentials aren't always going to be enough to sway local leaders, so we need to be able to present the science that answers any misinformation that policymakers receive when considering the issue and protect our patients and residents who are underserved and would be most hurt by removal of fluoride in the water system."