A city in Ontario, Canada is to start putting fluoride back into their water supply after everybody got tooth decay.
For 50 years Windsor put fluoride into their water supply. Fluoride can occur naturally in water, and is extremely beneficial to your dental health. Fluoride in water leads to low levels of fluoride in your saliva, which helps decrease the rate at which your enamel decays, and helps to increase the rate at which enamel remineralizes in the early stages of cavities.
Where there are low levels in the water, governments and cities have added it for years because of the benefits to tooth health. It's safe. It actually improves health. Which is why it was so baffling when Windsor decided to end the policy of adding fluoride to their water back in 2013.
Then, surprise surprise, the number of children with tooth decay or requiring urgent dental care increased by 51 percent, according to the Oral Health Report 2018, which was released by the city's health unit.
"For decades, low-level public water fluoridation has proven to have a dramatic effect on the rates of tooth decay, particularly in children," UK dentist and writer on dental health matters Ollie Jupes told IFLScience.
"Where fluoridation has been introduced, there is invariably a measurable difference in the rates of decay, compared to non-fluoridated areas. Decay rates in fluoridated areas can reduce by up to 25 percent. Removing fluoride from the water supply is madness – it’s a bit like withdrawing statins from a diabetic."
The city council last week voted by 8-3 to restore fluoride to the water once more, CBC reports. Several delegates reportedly stuck to their previous decision to vote against supplementing the water with fluoride, despite increased cases of tooth decay in children and no evidence that adding fluoride to water at safe levels has any adverse effects on health (unless you count strengthening your bones as a bad thing).
Councillor Fred Francis voted against the motion, citing the personal freedom of [squints] children to choose to get tooth decay.
The move to end putting fluoride in the water, which most likely led to the increase in children needing expensive medical work seen in the health report, was also hugely costly to the city. CBC reports that an estimate from Enwin Utilities shows the city will have to pay around $850,000 CAD to replace old equipment that's no longer available.
In a city where nearly 1 in 4 residents reports having no dental insurance coverage, there was likely a huge cost passed on to residents as well, who otherwise wouldn't have needed dental treatment.