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Fluoridation to continue in Denver, other municipalities

August 31, 2015

By Michelle Manchir

Photo of Dr. Mark Crabtree
Dr. Crabtree

Community water fluoridation will continue in three more municipalities after their respective leadership boards voted on the issue in August. Here is a summary of the votes:

All four present members of the Denver Board of Water Commissioners on Aug. 26 voted to continue supplying optimally fluoridated water to the system’s 1.3 million customers in Denver and surrounding suburbs, according to Denver Water.

“If Denver Water were to cease supplementing fluoride, customers would still receive fluoridated drinking water, but the levels would vary significantly, creating an imbalance throughout our service area,” said Denver Water Commissioner Penfield Tate in a news release. “Community water fluoridation provides dental health benefits across all socioeconomic communities in a predictable and uniform manner.”

The decision followed an information session in July. Board and staff reviewed and researched the latest science and recommendations of national, state and local public health agencies and medical professionals, according to a news release.

The resolution the board adopted Aug. 26 stated: “Nothing has been presented to the Board or learned in our research that would justify ignoring the advice of these public health agencies and medical and community organizations, or deviating from the thoroughly researched and documented recommendation of the U.S. Public Health Service.”

Denver Water has been regulating the fluoride in the water system since 1953.

Colorado Dental Association members, including past president Dr. Brett Kessler, provided supportive comments and testimony to commissioners.

CDA Associate Executive Director Molly Pereira lauded the commissioners’ decision.

“They made a decision based on their study of fact and science,” she said. “They didn’t allow themselves to be swayed by emotional arguments. They took the time to make sure they were protecting the safety of the public. We can’t ask for anything more than that.”

In other news, the city council in Martinsville, Virginia, on Aug. 25 voted 3-2 against a motion to cease the addition of fluoride to its water supply.

Council member Gene Teague, who voted for fluoride, said the research and evidence convinced him.

“Not one of those major medical organizations has come out and said fluoride . . . is unsafe for the community,” Mr. Teague said during the meeting, which can be viewed on the city’s website.

Dr. Mark Crabtree, a former chair of ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations, oversees a nonprofit dental clinic in Martinsville and informed council members about fluoridation facts before the vote.

Dr. Crabtree told the ADA News after the vote it’s important that those in the dental community help citizens understand the safety and benefits of fluoridating water.

“If we’re not there to provide the information and advocate for the safety and health of the community, who will?” he said.

Finally, city commissioners in Eustis, Florida, voted unanimously Aug. 20 to maintain community water fluoridation in the community, according to the Florida Dental Association. Members of the FDA gave a presentation and were present at the meeting. 

These victories come after Austin city officials voted to defeat a challenge to the city’s fluoridation program Aug. 19.