Public health advocates spout off on fluoridation in 3 communities this spring
June 12, 2017
Around the country, dentists and oral health advocates are helping educate their communities about the safety and benefits of community water fluoridation as voters and local leadership make decisions about the public health issue.
Here are summaries of three votes that occurred in April and May related to water fluoridation:
A year after Lynnfield Center Water District ratepayers opted to cease water fluoridation, residents took up the question again in April and decided to reinstate the public health measure.
Voters attending an annual district meeting said yes 51-14 to authorize the local water commissioner superintendent to reinstate fluoridation and not reconsider the issue for another five years. By a voice vote, they also said "yes" to an article approving funding for costs associated with reinstating fluoridation, according to Dr. Rob Wilson, a local dentist familiar with the matter.
The vote came after a grassroots campaign of locals concerned about the vote in 2016 that stopped water fluoridation. Dr. Wilson's wife, Erika, helped lead the effort to educate others about the safety and benefits of water fluoridation.
Family for fluoridation: Erika Wilson, back right in denim jacket, helped lead an effort to educate community members about the safety and benefits of water fluoridation in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, before town members voted on the issue. Her husband, Dr. Rob Wilson, is a local dentist. The couple has three children, Sofia, Madison, and Cole, who are pictured with the family dog, Scooter.
"Those who spoke felt passionately about the topic and shared their personal experiences," said Ms. Wilson. "One gentlemen spoke about the extreme amount of dental work he has received due to growing up in a community where the water was not fluoridated and how he doesn't want that for his children and grandchildren."
Ms. Wilson said she and three other local moms, two of whom are dentists, encouraged fellow residents to speak with local health care professionals and check with reputable sources for facts on fluoridation, including the ADA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"After doing much research, I was surprised at all of the misinformation out there," said Ms. Wilson. "Getting information from a trustworthy health care professional or reputable source is so important with the internet and social media bombarding everyone with opinion pieces."
The Lynnfield Center Water District serves more than 2,600 homes, businesses and public buildings, according to its website.
Sudbury Water District voters rejected a resident's request to stop fluoridating the town's water at a May annual meeting.
Dr. Ann Kirk, a retired dentist in Sudbury, said about a two-thirds majority voted to maintain water fluoridation.
"There were many people understanding the benefits of water fluoridation," said Dr. Kirk, who for many years helped run a program in local public schools educating children on proper brushing techniques and other oral health education. Today, her two sons and daughter-in-law continue the school program and dental practice she started.
"Dentists want to get involved in this kind of local issue because it is a major public health issue and it has a tremendous impact on the dental health of the community," said Dr. Kirk about fluoridation. "It is our responsibility to care for those people who need us — and fluoride in the drinking water has a longstanding record of simplicity and results. It protects people without their constant awareness and is a healthful, inexpensive and a gift to some people who cannot afford to have care.
The burgess and commissioners voted May 8 to no longer fluoridate this town of about 4,500. The decision was made largely because of the town's anticipated costs of capital construction, which would have been about $90,000 with yearly maintenance costs of about $23,000 per year, according to town documents and a local newspaper, The Frederick News-Post.
Prior to the vote, only one portion of the town received fluoridated water, according to the Frederick News Post, who quoted the town burgess, John Miller, as saying the town "intends to provide fluoride at all three water treatment facilities or at none of them."
A message on the town website after the vote was taken said after "discussion and deliberation, and with input from town residents, the burgess and commissioners have voted to not put fluoride in the town water supply. Those residences currently receiving fluoride in their water will no longer receive it, effective immediately."
For more information about fluoride and community water fluoridation, visit ADA.org/fluoride