JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Juneau does not have any plans to put fluoride in its drinking water again after Alaska’s capital stopped the practice more than a decade ago.
Fluoridation has received renewed scrutiny after a recent study examined dental health in Juneau, finding dental costs increased for families with children under 6 years old after fluoridation stopped in January 2007, the Juneau Empire reported Tuesday.
The study was published last month in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Oral Health.
Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon said the city is unlikely to begin fluoridation again because the matter was put to a vote in a citywide election in 2007, with non-fluoridation winning the majority.
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Many cities in the U.S. add the mineral fluoride to drinking water in an effort to promote better dental health. About half of Alaska residents get fluoridated water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. David Logan said he saw an increase in patients with cavities after the city stopped fluoridating. Logan practiced dentistry in Juneau for 28 years. He retired 2013 and is now the executive director of the Alaska Dental Society.
“I saw almost immediate effects in the adult population,” Logan said.
Cavities form when the mouth becomes acidic, said Dr. Jessica Blanco, a pediatric dentist.
“When fluoride gets incorporated in the teeth, the pH has to go down all the way to 3.5 before you have a breakdown of the teeth,” Blanco said. “Normally, a tooth that doesn’t have fluoride, at 5.5, you’re already getting demineralization of your teeth.”
Blanco has been practicing in Juneau for the past three years but worked as a dental assistant when the city’s water was fluoridated.
“It certainly felt like it was a change,” Blanco said. “Studies show there is a correlation, and fluoride is an easy, kind of economic way to help strengthen teeth. I think understanding how it works is the most important thing.”
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com