The city council had been discussing the possible end of fluoride use in the city’s water for months, and after listening to public input, reviewing petitions and hearing professional opinions, the resolution to cease the use of fluoride in the city’s water supply died for lack of motion during an October meeting.
“Before we had an early notification law, we’d find out after the fact,” said John Dane, D.D.S., Missouri state dental director.
Local dentists like Tonya Long, D.M.D., and Megann Scott, D.D.S., were part of the contingent that heard about the possible termination and joined community members who considered the notification a call to action.
“I feel that with Missouri having an early notification law, it allowed for much greater advocacy to take place in support of community water fluoridation,” said Dr. Long. “Without it, we would have had a very limited time to raise awareness and gain support. We were able to launch several petitions in addition to radio campaign ads, as well as collectively and individually speak with the city council members, the city administrator and the mayor on multiple occasions.”
The early notification law, Dr. Scott said, allowed her and her colleagues to educate the public, address concerns and voice the public health viewpoint.
“In our case, it allowed the opportunity to discuss with our patients’ parents the benefits that their children and they themselves were [receiving] from community fluoridation,” Dr. Scott said. “In our area, I was surprised to learn how many Park Hills residents did not even know that Park Hills is the only city in the county providing fluoride and are happy to hear it is available in their town.”
Leon Stanislav, D.D.S., chair of the ADA’s National Fluoridation Advisory Committee, was instrumental in getting his state of Tennessee to pass an early notification law.
Dr. Stanislav said that while the law does not mean that fluoridation advocates could always avert rollback, it did mean that they were at the table and had the opportunity to address the concerns.
“This did significantly slow the rollback successes,” Dr. Stanislav said. “Public notice allowed people supportive of community water fluoridation to be present in person as a consumer and for coalitions to face the opposition. Many times the misinformation can be dispelled by individuals and groups more knowledgeable about the safety and benefits of community water fluoridation. I would encourage states consider this in their legislative agendas where rollbacks are on the rise.”
For more information on fluoride and ADA advocacy of community water fluoride, visit ADA.org/fluoride.