Physicians united on fluoride question

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To the Editor:

At the town election on Thursday, April 16, the voters of Oak Bluffs will face a ballot question which asks whether the fluoridation of the town water supply should continue, or be discontinued. Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, has been added to the public water supply in Oak Bluffs continuously for the past 24 years — since April 1991.

Fluoride’s usefulness for decreasing tooth decay, as well as the safety of community water fluoridation, has been proven by careful review of scientists in the United States for 70 years. In 1945, the U.S. Public Health Service adjusted the fluoride in the City of Grand Rapids, Mich., from a naturally occurring trace level to 1 part fluoride per million parts of water. Shortly thereafter, in carefully controlled trials, two other U.S. cities and one Canadian city were artificially fluoridated, and three nearby and similarly sized cities were not fluoridated. These controlled studies of the usefulness and safety of community water fluoridation continue to the present day. By 2005, 175 million, or 67 percent of Americans, were drinking fluoridated water.

The terrible diseases that some people think are caused by this addition of fluoride to community drinking water have not occurred in the fluoridated cities at any greater rate than in the nearby control cities. On the other hand, dental caries (tooth decay) have been reduced by 20 to 40 percent in the fluoridated cities.

The vast majority of doctors and scientifically trained professionals endorse the safety and value of this important public health measure. Unwavering support for water fluoridation has been expressed by medical and dental organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, the National Head Start Association, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the World Health Organization, and by every U.S. Surgeon General and every President of the United States since and including President John F. Kennedy.

The cost of water fluoridation in Oak Bluffs is about $15,000 per year. This works out to approximately $3.30 per resident per year, less than the cost of the smallest bottle of fluoride rinse.

In order to keep the town water supply fluoridated, we, the undersigned, urge Oak Bluffs voters to attend the annual town meeting on April 16, and answer the ballot question: “Should the Town of Oak Bluffs cease adding fluoride to the drinking water?” with a vote of “No.”

Bruce E. Golden, D.D.S.

Karen Gear, D.D.S.

Garrett Orazem, D.M.D.

Brian S. Cullen, D.M.D.

Sanford Nadelstein, D.D.S.

David S. Samuels, D.M.D.

Helene F. Schaeffer, D.M.D.

Robert W. Herman, D.M.D.

Michael L. Goldfein, M.D.

John R. Lamb, M.D.

Melanie A. Miller, M.D.

Gerry Yukevich, M.D.

Henry Neider, M.D.

Julia Stunkel, M.D.

Dana Guyer, M.D.

Beth M. Donnelly, M.D.

Peter J. Laursen, M.D.

Jennifer Kingsley, biologist at GE Healthcare,

and Oak Bluffs parent