Texas city resumes fluoridation after local dentist advocates
October 24, 2016
— Dr. Jeffrey Nelson said he was among the many health professionals here who didn’t know city officials had stopped adding fluoride to the public water supply to meet optimum levels back in 2013.
Thanks to a contact at the Texas Dental Association, Dr. Nelson found out about the action and helped launch a campaign to bring fluoridation back.
In October, the Greenville City Council voted 4-2 to resume water fluoridation in the city of about 26,000.
After he contacted the council with this concerns, Dr. Nelson said he and several local pediatricians supportive of fluoridation were asked to present information to the council’s public health subcommittee earlier this year. The group presented information and data from the ADA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Public Health Service.
“The goal of this meeting was to present peer-reviewed, scientific data that would support our claims about fluoridation being a valuable public health measure,” he said.
In the end, Dr. Nelson said he believes city officials could not turn their back on the science.
“I was very upfront with the council about the resistance that developed from certain segments of our society opposed to fluoride,” Dr. Nelson said. “Every point raised by the public health subcommittee was answered the same basic way: please provide and cite your peer reviewed research that supports your position. Of course, the opposition (to fluoridation) was unable to do so in every case.”
The resumption of water fluoridation has no financial impact on the city’s budget, according to a memo from the director of the public works, because the expenses for supplies and maintenance fall within already established budget categories.
Dr. Nelson said being involved in fluoridation education in the city where he has a dental office helped him understand the need for dental professionals to educate patients and government leaders about the advantages of having a fluoridated community.
“Most folks now believe that fluoride in toothpaste and mouth rinses are suitable substitutes for fluoride in our drinking water,” he said, adding that “patience, kindness, and respect for our city leaders is the best approach to educate and inform.”