Fluoridation controversy presented to city council

By Howell Dennis

NEWS EDITOR

CROWLEY – At this month’s Crowley City Council meeting, Dr. James Reaves gave a presentation on the dangers of fluoridation in drinking water. Even though several studies have shown that fluoridation has been beneficial to the public’s teeth, Reaves said that independent studies show that not only is adding fluoride to a town’s drinking water not as effective as one would think, but that it is also related to a higher rate of cancer and Alzeheimer’s disease.

Not so fast according to four representatives of the dental and medical field during an interview Friday.

“Not only is fluoridation proven to help teeth, especially those of our children,” said Dr. Randy Hayden, the president of Creative Communications Inc. “Here in Louisiana, especially in the rural parishes where dental care may not be quite as accessible, it is an invaluable method for people to attain their fluoride.”

Recently the Lafayette City/Parish council, after listening to a presentation from Reaves’ group, decided to approved a resolution to state lawmakers, asking them to take a hard look at the process before spending the $530,000 cost on fluoridating the state’s water. A 2008 state law requires that water systems with more than 5,000 connections be fluoridated with regulations on the levels of fluoride in our drinking water.

According to Reaves, the arguments against fluoride state that the chemical is often an industrial waste product and a potential poison. However, as Hayden pointed out on Friday, the same could be said of chlorine, aluminum or any other chemical that may be in our water.

However, the American Dental Association (ADA) says that fluoridation prevents cavities, and the benefits for permanent teeth begin even before children lose their baby teeth. The group also says that fluoridation reduces tooth decay in children by 60 percent. Even where fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash and fluoridation treatments by dentist are available, treated water reduces tooth decay by up to 40 percent.

Ward Blackwell of the Louisiana Dental Association basically said that anyone needed proof as to the benefits of fluoridation, the results were obvious after Hurricane Katrina when he was working with displaced residents in Baton Rouge.

“Baton Rouge is the largest city in the country which has a non-fluoridated water system,” said Blackwell. “New Orleans has fluoridated water. I literally got to a point when I was treating people where I could tell if they were from Baton Rouge or New Orleans just by looking at their teeth.”

He also pointed out that the 2008 law in Louisiana requiring fluoridation provides that the state maintain safe and proper levels of fluoride in Louisiana’s drinking water.

“Sure anyone can say that there may be a problem with our drinking water, but to simply assume it’s fluoridation is false,” added Hayden. “This is almost like a conspiracy theory . . . and with all due respect to Dr. Reaves, his background isn’t in medicine – he was a civil engineer. Inciting the public in such a manner could be very dangerous.”

“The vast, overwhelming majority of doctors and scientist (groups and people such as the ADA, the World Health Organization and the Surgeon General) are for the fluoridation of water and all that we ask is that is that you look at all the facts before making a quick judgement on the issue,” Hayden continued.

“All we ask is that people do their research from such respected organizations that Randy just mentioned and consider just how much the benefits outweigh the alleged risks,” added Blackwell.

The group, which also included Claire Rivette, the Director of Governmental Relations for Creative Communications, and Karissa M. Page, Fluoridation Coordinator for the Louisiana Office of Health and Hospitals, plans to attend June’s city council meeting to make their views known to city officials.

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