Fluoride debate comes to Tecumseh

by Kyle Reid

While the Town of Essex decided not to reintroduce fluoride to its water supply during its last Term of Council, the fluoride debate reached Tecumseh Town Council on Tuesday, January 29. Members of Council held a special meeting to hear public opinions, both for and against the issue. A total of 27 delegates weighed in on the matter during this meeting.

Last month, Windsor City Council voted in favour of reintroducing fluoride to the water supply, based largely on recommendations made in a report from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU). Fluoridation, however, will not go ahead unless either the Town of Tecumseh or the Town of LaSalle vote in favour as well.

The study by the WECHU revealed a 51 percent increase in cavities among children over five since fluoride was removed from the water supply six years ago. A second study revealed that 56 percent of adults living in Windsor did not have access to regular dental care.

Windsor resident Richard St. Denis, who opposes fluoridation, said, however, those numbers may be alarmist.

“For junior kindergarten, for example, 0.7 of a cavity when they started,” St. Denis said before the meeting. “Seven years go by, we’re up to 1.1 — that’s 0.4 of a cavity, that’s not a huge difference.”

The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to listen to opinions from health professionals and residents on the pros and cons of fluoridation.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said there is an extensive amount of information for Council to review before making the final decision.

“I think there’s just under 1,400 pages of documentation, e-mails, documents, and reports; support for and support against,” McNamara said. “I think Council really needs the time to digest all of this information that’s come before them.”

The majority of the medical opinion brought before Tecumseh Council was in favour of fluoridation. Dr. Charles Frank, a dentist, spoke in favour of fluoridation before Council.

“Since fluoride was removed from our water supply in 2013, I have seen an increase in both the quantity and severity in dental decay in my patients,” Frank said. “I also treat patients at Windsor Regional Hospital. Some of the patients I see are children who, at a young age, because of the amount and severity of decay that they have, require treatment at a hospital under general anaesthesia.”

Dr. Johnny Johnson was another dentist who spoke in defence of fluoride. According to Johnson, adding fluoride in the water system has no adverse health effects and is effective at decreasing cavities.

However, others who spoke at the meeting argued that fluoride can have adverse health effects.

“In 2014 Health Canada admitted they have no studies demonstrating that this acid is either safe for consumption or effective at reducing cavities,” Windsor resident Donna Mayne said, citing studies that claimed fluoride ingestion is linked to ADHD, autism, and Alzheimer’s. “When I was pregnant, my obstetrician told me to avoid fluoride because he believed it could be potentially detrimental to a developing fetus, just as caffeine and alcohol are.”

“Why should a public health doctor, who has never assessed me or my family, be able to ask you to interfere with advice I have gotten from someone who has?” Mayne added.

Tecumseh Town Council will vote on the issue during its regular meeting on February 12.