It's been at least three or four years and maybe longer since the City of Smithville fluoridated it's water supply and many believe it's time the fluoride treatment was started again.
City officials say the machine that feeds the fluoride into the water system broke down a few years ago and was never repaired or replaced.
Smithville physician Dr. Steven Cooper and dentist Dr. Mitchell Tatum addressed the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen Monday night asking that the fluoridation be re-activated for the benefit of the citizens.
Dr. Cooper says fluoridation is needed "The reason I'm concerned about this is because if we're not fluoridated, then we need to make this known to the physicians in the community because, especially in well child exams, we're supposed to be supplementing fluoride, giving vitamins that contain fluoride or supplementing fluoride in areas where the water supply isn't fluoridated. Of course, I can do that and I have already given out some vitamins with fluoride supplements but I think that would penalize people who are uninsured or people who are lower income who can't afford these supplements. I would ask the board to consider voting to make sure that the fluoridation is reinstated. Water in the United States has been fluoridated since World War II and it's cut the cavity rate by 50%. It's a lot easier and cheaper to prevent a cavity than to go back and fill a bunch of cavities. As far as the costs, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) says on average in the U.S. it costs about 72 cents per person per year to fluoridate. If you don't fluoridate, you double the dental costs in most communities. That's been studied. Fluoridation is very safe in the proper concentration. Obviously, too much of anything can be bad. If you eat too much salt, that could be bad for your blood pressure, too much sugar, diabetes, whatever. It's the same with fluoride. If you ingest too much it can be harmful but not in the proper concentrations, which in the city water system that would vary between .7 and 1.2 parts per million. To give you an analogy, if you equated that to distance, that would be equivalent to an inch per sixteen miles so it's a very tiny concentration and done properly it would be very safe with no adverse affects."
Dr. Tatum added that "Nearly 100 national and international organizations recognize the public health benefits of community water fluoridation in preventing cavities. Some of them are the American Dental Association, the American Dietetic Association, the World Health Organization, the National Cancer Institute, the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the CDC which has named fluoridation as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century in the United States. That's just to name a few. I would also like to quote some of the past Surgeon Generals including Dr. C. Everett Koop, the Surgeon General of the United States from 1981 to 1989. He stated that fluoridation is the single most important commitment a community can make to the oral health of it's children and future generations. Dr. Audrey Manley, Acting Surgeon General from 1995 to 1997, stated that data consistently has indicated that water fluoridation is the most cost effective, practical, and safe means for reducing the occurrence of tooth decay in a community. Water fluoridation continues to be the cornerstone of community oral disease prevention. Fluoridation has been the standard and the policy of Smithville and the State of Tennessee for many years. It is not a mysterious substance. It is not an experiment. It is safe. It is cost effective and it is needed for this community. There is no credible organizations that are against it. Water fluoridation has been studied for over 50 years. It occurs naturally in our water and there has never been one study that has said that it's a health risk. That's from the CDC's website."
The aldermen voted 4-0 to have city officials research the feasibility and costs of re-implementing the fluoridation treatment, and check to see whether any state assistance is available. The issue will be revisited at the next city council meeting on April 20th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.