MONCTON, N.B. – Despite pleas from dentists to restore fluoride to the water supply in Moncton, N.B., at least one city councillor says he’ll vote against it when council meets to make a decision next week.
Moncton ended fluoride use in 2011, and local dentist Suzanne Drapeau-McNally says she has seen a dramatic increase in tooth decay among young children ever since.
“Children who previously had no cavities, all of a sudden come in and have a higher number of decays,” Drapeau-McNally said.
Moncton city council was supposed to make a decision this spring, but Coun. Shawn Crossman asked that the decision be delayed until Sept. 18 to gather more information.
Crossman said he spent the last seven months reading studies and listening to the public, and hasn’t seen any evidence to prove that fluoride prevents tooth decay.
“There’s nothing there that says fluoride is stopping tooth decay, absolutely nothing,” he said.
“There’s a much bigger picture here. Sugar is a factor, what do our diets look like, what is the person’s overall health? There are other factors that contribute. Fluoride is not going to solve everybody’s problems.”
Crossman said in fact he has seen information that fluoride can be harmful to very young children.
Drapeau-McNally said fluoride is a natural element that protects tooth enamel against the acids that cause tooth decay, and she’s seen no studies to show negative impact of 0.7 parts per million of fluoride in public water supplies.
“We have public health across the world and none have found evidence that community water fluoridation is harmful to health,” Drapeau-McNally said.
“I remain solid that the scientific studies show the results are conclusive — it is a win situation to add fluoride to our Moncton water,” she said.
Last year, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health and the New Brunswick Dental Society’s board both came out in support of fluoridation.
“The value of water fluoridation should not be underestimated. The studies are clear and unequivocal and the benefits of fluoridation are well documented for all individuals in the community regardless of age, education, or socio-economic status,” they wrote in a joint statement.
While federal and provincial governments set guidelines for fluoridation, the decision to use fluoride is left up to municipalities.
Brantford, Ont., became the first Canadian community to add fluoride in 1945, and many others followed. Health Canada reported in 2009, the last time it counted, that about 45 per cent of the population was drinking fluoridated water.
Big cities including Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Halifax and Winnipeg fluoridate. Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver don’t, along with Waterloo and Windsor in southern Ontario.
City council in Saint John, N.B., voted against fluoride in 2014.
Crossman said he hasn’t done a poll of other councillors, but believes most will support his decision when council meets on Monday.
— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton