Cleaning your teeth...or poisoning your body? The controversial question of whether to keep fluoride in Collier County's water supply drew dozens of people - on both sides of the issue - to Tuesday's commission meeting.
"Everyone in this room, whether they support it or not, is overexposed to fluoride,” said Camden Smith, who opposes fluoridating Collier County’s water, while addressing commissioners.
Collier County has been adding fluoride to its water supply for decades. Now residents are pleading with commissioners to stop the practice - saying what's good for the teeth is bad for the rest of our bodies.
"I now have no choice but to ingest this chemical, this neurotoxin, this hormone disruptor, because it's been done forever,” Joel Bohemier told commissioners.
But supporters of water fluoridation say that it's meant to slow down tooth decay for everyone - and that it works.
"Those that have the lowest access to dental services are the ones that benefit the most from community water fluoridation," said Scott Tomar of the University of Florida’s College of Dentistry.
Many who showed up to the commission meeting held signs saying fluoride in the water causes fluorosis - a break down in tooth enamel.
“Community water fluoridation is not associated with any type of severe fluorosis,” Tomar said. “The primary reasons are inappropriate use of fluoride toothpaste, by young children."
But retired chemistry professor Paul Connett says he's more concerned about what too much fluoride can do to our brains than our teeth.
"Over 300 experiments. animal experiments, human experiments, (indicate the) lowering of IQ,” Connett said.”And what parent or what politician in their right minds would put their children's brains below their teeth?"
Tomar says those studies are skewed...and that the amount of fluoride added to water is too miniscule to have any negative health effects.
"All these have been examined, and they've all been reviewed, and they've all been dismissed," Tomar said.
This is not the first effort to try to get fluoride removed from Collier County's water supply, and may not be the last. Commissioners decided to keep the practice continuing for the time being