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City council in Florida town Oks reinstating fluoridation

November 04, 2013

By Stacie Crozier, ADA News staff

Dr. Johnson

Dr. Lense

Dr. Buckenheimer
Brooksville, Fla.—Following an 8-month-long drama that played out at city council meetings, the Brooksville City Council voted 4-1 Oct. 7 to restore fluoridation to its water supply. Fluoridation will restart in December.

Mayor Lara Bradburn, who stopped fluoridation in 2011 to help balance the budget, cast the dissenting vote.

“In 2011, the mayor was successful in presenting a motion and holding an unannounced vote to stop fluoridation in 78 seconds,” said Dr. Pedro Lense, senior dentist for the Hernando County Health Department.

Brooksville had been fluoridated from 1986-2011. Brooksville, a town of about 7,700 residents, is located in Hernando County and is part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area.

Local dentists, county health department representatives and other concerned citizens and groups worked together for months to educate council members about the safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation and to ask that a discussion on fluoridation be put on the council's agenda for public discussion.

Mayor Bradburn invited pro-fluoridation advocates in the community to hold a televised debate in August with Paul Connett, Ph.D., a chemist, anti-fluoridation advocate and executive director of the Fluoride Action Network, said Dr. Johnny Johnson, a pediatric dentist in Palm Harbor, Fla., one of around a dozen area dentists working to restore fluoridation in Brooksville.

“We chose not to add credibility to his claims by participating in a debate,” said Dr. Johnson. “We offered to present testimony supporting the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation, but the mayor held firm on holding a debate.”

Several local dentists, he added, provided their support during the process. “The advocacy of local dentists from Brooksville and surrounding communities was an exciting development,” said Dr. Johnson.

In September, the city council set aside $10,000 to cover the cost of fluoridating pending the outcome of the fluoridation vote.

“The people who will benefit the most from this will be children who have no other method of dental security available to them, Dr. Lense said.”

Dr. Lense was one of 26 participants in a fluoridation training workshop held at the ADA in April. The ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations presented the course in collaboration with the Department of Continuing Education, Public/Professional Communications and State Government Affairs.

“The training was a source of good information and contacts, and a helpful email list of fellow dentists in various parts of the country going through similar experiences whose advice was most welcome,” said Dr. Lense. “One of the outcomes was also a centralized place where we can collect and share up to date information.”

Florida Dental Association President Terry Buckenheimer, congratulated the dentists who advocated for fluoridation's restoration.

“The citizens of Brooksville were well served by the actions of the city council,” said Dr. Buckenheimer, who is also the ADA's 17th District trustee. “On behalf of the FDA, we thank the local dentists who dedicated themselves to advance the oral health of the local community. This vote was a vote for the public's health.”

The ADA also offers its new and updated Fluoridation Toolkit to help dental societies and local coalitions involved in initiating or trying to retain community water fluoridation programs.

Tap in to Your Health: Fluoridation Toolkit, developed by experts from two ADA divisions and two volunteer advisory groups, contains many ready-to-use resources available to state and local dental societies.

The kit includes a copy of Fluoridation Facts, the ADA's premier resource on community water fluoridation that provides users with peer-reviewed scientific evidence to answer frequently asked questions or respond to misconceptions about water fluoridation; a PowerPoint presentation for use at city council meetings, public hearings or community meetings; FAQs for the public and policymakers; a sample press release; an opinion letter; a radio spot; talking points; case studies on pro- and antifluoridation activities; statements from groups that support fluoridation; tips for sharing fluoridation information via social media; and much more.

For more details or to access toolkit components, contact your local or state dental society. For technical assistance with a fluoridation campaign, contact Jane McGinley at