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Local dentists express support for water fluoridation

Watertown Daily Times - 9/24/2017

Sept. 24--POTSDAM -- The village's proposal to end fluoridation has drawn criticism from local and non-local dentists.

"The most vulnerable are the ones that benefit the most from fluoridation," said Lee H. Akin, a surgeon at North Country Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Potsdam. He also serves as the president of the local dental society, which covers St. Lawrence County.

"(The local dentists are) all for it," he said. "They're all for community water fluoridation."

While Dr. Akin readily acknowledges he is not an expert on fluoridation, he wonders why the trustees would end a practice recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Dental Association, the Department of Health and other nationally recognized public health bodies.

Dr. Akin and other local dentists have not spoken publicly on the issue yet, in part because they were not aware that the issue was being considered by the village trustees. But Dr. Akin and others, including Aaron Acre, a dentist at the Potsdam Center for Innovative Dental Technologies, plan to attend the public hearing at 6:30 p.m.Oct. 2.

"I think it's an absolute shame if they were to discontinue fluoridating the water," said Dr. Acre. "To me, it's no different to adding vitamin D to milk or folic acid in bread or extra calcium in orange juice."

For those that do not wish to drink fluoride, Dr. Acre says it can be easily filtered out, or people can drink bottled water, but that municipal fluoridation is too valuable to end for the entire village over the concerns of a few.

"It's proven that it's safe ... (and the) best way to prevent dental issues," he said.

The issue was brought to Dr. Akin's attention by Tom Curran, a retired oral--maxillofacial surgeon living outside Rochester.

Dr. Curran learned about the proposal from his position as the chair of the water fluoridation committee for the New York State Oral Health Coalition. He wrote an email expressing his support for fluoride to the village trustees, and contacted Dr. Akin, among other local dentists.

"All water contains fluoride, it's just a matter of pumping it up to the right level," said Dr. Curran.

Dr. Curran said that, according to Public Health Law 1100-a, local municipalities can decide to discontinue fluoridation. As part of their decision, they must consult with health professionals and explore alternatives to fluoridation, which "may include formal alternatives provided by or at the expense of the (municipalities) or other alternatives available to the public."

Of the available alternatives, however, none are as cost effective as fluoridation, according to Dr. Curran. Moreover, fluoridating the water saves money in public health costs.

"I don't think the village trustees understand they are robbing Peter to pay Paul," said Dr. Curran.

The issue of fluoridation came up initially when the village received a grant from the state to do an engineering study on its fluoridation equipment to see what it would take to rehabilitate the system. At the same time, a number of residents began expressing concerns about continuing fluoridation.

If the village does decide to end fluoridation, they will have to return the grant funding.

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(c)2017 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.)

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