Oral Health Presentation Brings Fluoride Debate to Essex County Council

What was supposed to be a presentation on oral health turned into a water fluoridation debate at Essex County Council Wednesday night.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit presented its Oral Health Report — and while no decision was being made — that didn't stop several residents from sending in emails or standing up before council in opposition.

Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed says the report puts an emphasis on dental care access, education, and prevention — yet those who decided to express their opinions chose to focus on fluoride.

Claims were presented ranging from lack of concentration control, the quality of the fluoride being used, and adverse health effects that have plagued the debate since it was removed from Windsor's water by an eight to three vote back in 2013.

Ahmed and his staffers presented their case to council armed with more than five years of data pointing to an oral health decline since the removal — and while no solid research pointed to an issue — more than 90 accredited organizations back the controlled fluoridation of water as a safe, inexpensive and efficient tool for maintaining oral health for the masses.

"Obviously I would like to rely on the trusted organizations, trusted professionals who know what they're doing and I'll take their recommendations as more credible," Ahmed says.

He says those who speak the loudest aren't always the majority and aren't always right - the report cites survey data that shows the majority of residents support the move. "We often find it challenging to counter the argument when people use fear for example to not make any decision, but I always challenge them by saying there are some consequences to not making any decisions," he says.

 

Ahmed says claims revolving around the concentration of fluoride in the water supply simply don't apply to the situation in Windsor-Essex, and to compare swallowing a higher concentration of fluoride in toothpaste or mouthwash to swallowing a regulated supply in the water simply doesn't make sense.

Research showing adverse health issues due to fluoridated water happens in regions where high levels occur naturally, he added. "When it's naturally occurring you don't have any control over how much fluoride is in the water, but when it comes to the water treatment operators it's very strictly regulated," says Ahmed.

Ahmed says the presentation was designed to drum up support and hopefully garner invitations to present to councils throughout Essex County — not to hold a public debate on fluoridation at county council.

Windsor City Council recently asked for an extensive report from administration and will revisit adding fluoride to the water at a later date.