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Local dentist revisits fluoridation of water

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The issue about Lebanon not adding fluoride to its water supply during the purification process was addressed in January 2010 by a number of young parents as part of an orchestrated campaign by the Lebanon Junior Womens Club. The Wilson Post also published a series of articles that month concerning the issue.


Among other professional groups, the club cited the American Dental Hygienists Association, as saying that community water fluoridation is an effective, safe, and inexpensive way to prevent tooth decay.


At that time the City found that there was conflicting data about the issue and made the determination to not change its water filtration and purification process which remains without any added fluoride.


City officials said it was not a revenue matter because adding fluoride to the water supply was not an expensive matter.


Some information presented almost two years ago claimed that the amount of fluoride added to water supplies cannot be adequately controlled, that excessive amounts can be harmful, and that there can be certain ethical issues about the process.


However, Williams and others stand with the ADA and other professional organizations arguing that the overall benefits far outweigh any risks.


According to the ADA, fluoride is effective in preventing and reversing the early signs of tooth decay.


Researchers have shown that there are several ways through which fluoride achieves its decay-preventive effects. It makes the tooth structure stronger, so teeth are more resistant to acid attacks. Acid is formed when the bacteria in plaque break down sugars and carbohydrates from the diet. Repeated acid attacks break down the tooth, which causes cavities. Fluoride also acts to repair, or remineralize, areas in which acid attacks have already begun. The remineralization effect of fluoride is important because it reverses the early decay process as well as creating a tooth surface that is more resistant to decay, the ADA says on its website.


The national association of dentists says community water fluoridation is an extremely effective and inexpensive means of obtaining the fluoride necessary to prevent tooth decay. Studies prove that water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by 20 to 40 percent.


A number of health organizations have gone on record supporting fluoridation along with the ADA including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The ADA has endorsed public fluoridation since 1950.


Williams said he will be contacting other dentists in the area in the weeks ahead in an attempt to get a consensus on the issue in hopes that the City will change its policy and add fluoride to water supplies.


In January 2010, The Post reported that the City of Lebanon stopped fluoridating its water supply in 2007. Up until then, Lebanon used powdered sodium silicafluoride in the water supply.


The articles in the paper also noted that nearby cities and communities Murfreesboro, Gladeville, Gallatin, Hendersonville and Franklin put fluoride in their water supplies. All of them, with the exception of Gallatin, used a liquid form of fluoride called fluorosilicic acid in their water. Gallatin used the powdered form.


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