Letter: Dentists in support of fluoride decision

As practicing dentists in the Roaring Fork Valley, we would like to offer our opinion on the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District board’s recent decision. Frequently the topic of water fluoridation turns into a “good guy, bad guy” argument, when in fact both sides are lobbying for the health and wellness of their residents. Regardless, we are in favor of the board upholding its recent decision to remove fluoride from the drinking water of Snowmass for the following reasons:

• We are against the addition of sodium fluorosilicate, an unpurified byproduct of the phosphate-fertilizer industry, a product sourced from China, being added to the water of Snowmass. We are concerned that the residents of Snowmass are possibly unaware that the fluoride they are ingesting is not pharmaceutical-grade fluoride.

• We are against any medication being ingested that is not titrated dependent on weight. Any medication, including 0.7 parts per million of fluoride, acts dramatically different both physiologically and biochemically in a 45-pound child from how it does in a 195-pound adult. This is why there is an established dietary fluoride schedule based on the age (and consequently the weight) of children.

• We are concerned that people aren’t recognizing the cumulative dose of fluoride they’re receiving. It is impossible to estimate how much fluoride is ingested overall. Fluoride is present in sodas, sports drinks, bottled waters, juices, processed foods and even certain medications. Many people, and unfortunately a high percentage of our lower-income population, are drinking these drinks and are eating processed foods, all of which contain fluoride, and unfortunately this population still presents with a high incidence of dental decay.

• Fluoride is not an essential nutrient. There is not one biological process in the human body that requires fluoride. Systemic fluoride has systemic effects; its effects are not just localized to teeth. Fluoride is an endocrine disruptor, having global effects on the bones, the brain and the thyroid and pineal glands, effects of which can cause significant future health issues. Applying a systemic Band-Aid in the hopes of addressing the incidence of one disease, you open the door to creating health challenges that can be just as, if not more, difficult to manage.

• However, we’d like to acknowledge fluoride’s effectiveness topically. Topical fluoride inhibits bacterial metabolism, enhances remineralization and inhibits demineralization, all of which can occur fully without a person swallowing a single drop of fluoride.

• Should the board uphold its decision to remove fluoride from the water, and the residents of Snowmass decide that using fluoride is in their best interests, it still can be found. It’s in your toothpastes, mouthwashes, foods and drinks, you even can ingest it systemically by supplementing with fluoride drops if you so desire.

Please know that no one has a more vested interest in maintaining the oral health of our community than its local dentists, ourselves included. But the time has come for all of us to acknowledge that there are better and safer ways of managing tooth decay.

Drs. Rebecca Steinbach and Schuyler Van Gorden

Elevate Dental Wellness, Willits