The College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CDSS) is urging the City of Estevan to continue using fluoride in drinking water.
The continued use of fluoride is a non-binding question that the City will pose to residents on the ballot for the April 23 councillor by-election.
The CDSS supports municipal water fluoridation as a means to reduce tooth decay, and improve dental health for a community’s residents, regardless of age or income level.
The organization says it is concerned about the trend in Saskatchewan to stop adding small amounts of fluoride to drinking water. Municipalities have stopped the practice due to a desire to reduce operating costs, or what the CDSS called "misinformation" about the risks of fluoridation.
The CDSS believes that decisions to eliminate fluoridation programs are often shortsighted, and do not calculate the costs to residents of added trips to the dentist, nor the impact of less rigorous dental care.
“Adding fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, to public drinking water is the best way to make sure that every person in that town can get the benefits of fluoride,” said CDSS executive director Jerod Orb. “We estimate that for every dollar spent adding fluoride to
water, you get $38 in savings in dental treatment and care.”
A fluoride program costs are low, since fluoride is added only to bring naturally occurring fluoride levels in Estevan’s drinking water up to a beneficial level. The savings to individuals, especially to low income families with less access to regular dental care, is significant.
According to the CDSS, over 90 national and international professional health organizations – including the World Health Organization, Health Canada and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health – recommend up to seven-tenths of a milligram of fluoride per litre of water as safe.
“Fluoride has been added to Estevan’s drinking water since 1960,” said Orb. “Ending a public health initiative that has proven benefits across a community and has been safely administered for 55 years is, we believe, a step backwards.”
The CDSS website has more information on the benefits of fluoride in water.