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Dental experts react to Collier County halting fluoride from public water supply

5-0 vote on Tuesday from county commissioners to remove it from the water
Posted at 6:02 PM, Feb 14, 2024

NAPLES, Fla — Collier County commissioners unanimously agreed on Tuesday to halt the addition of fluoride in the county's public drinking water system. The move comes after nearly three hours of impassioned debate among community members and leaders.

Opponents of the practice, which has been a standard in public water systems across the United States for decades, voiced concerns during the commissioners' meeting. They argued that adding fluoride to drinking water infringes upon individual health freedoms and cited research studies suggesting potential health risks associated with fluoride exposure.

“Are we medically treating our citizens of collier county by placing the fluoride in the water? Every study I’ve seen it’s referred to as a medication for dental health. Are we in violation?”said Commissioner Dan Kowal, District 4.

However, proponents of fluoridation, including local health officials and dentists, vigorously defended the practice.

Dr. Alexis A. Diaczynsky, a local Dentist President of the Collier County Dental Association, spoke at the meeting and told Fox 4 about fluoride's safety and efficacy in improving oral health.

"Fluorid is important in water because we're getting it systemically," Diaczynsky explained. "Yes, we're getting it through out toothpaste... But having fluoride in our water is providing a baseline of fluoride in our saliva that's going to help provide against decay in our teeth," she added

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fluoride is a common mineral that occurs naturally and is released from rocks into the soil, water, and air.

The American Dental Association reports almost two-thirds of the United States population served by public water supplies consume water with optimal fluoride levels. Of the 50 largest cities in the country, 43 are fluoridated, the association says.

Dr. Diaczynsky expressed concerns about the potential consequences of removing fluoride from public water systems.

"We have a very large underserved community in Naples and Collier County that don't have access to dental care… A lot of them are younger children who really benefit from this," Dr. Diaczynsky explained.

Official data suggest discontinuing fluoride in Collier County's drinking water could save the county upward of $300,000 every year.