My turn: Let fluoride continue to be a matter of choice

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2006

During the last Assembly meeting on fluoridation, the dental community came out in support of fluoridation of our water. The Assembly decided to discontinue the addition of fluoride, although they advised that it should be added for the next three weeks. I find that confusing and contradictory to the decision itself. Part of their decision was based on safety concerns especially for pregnant women and children. Now I see a political cartoon in our paper inferring that without fluoridated water we will all be missing teeth. We're all missing the point here.

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There is really no reason to go on with this debate. Each and every one of us can have our choice. Those who wish to ingest fluoride can do so, at little if any cost. You can get 100 tablets for about $14. That would last you three months and 10 days at a whopping 14 cents per day. It is covered by insurance. I am certain that there are public health services to provide it to those who can't afford it or are uninsured. As adamant as dentists are about us all consuming fluoride, I am certain they can get those tablets to those who need them. Because they feel so passionately about this, perhaps they should use that energy to create a program to ensure that even the poorest Juneau resident can get fluoride tablets. Considering the cost of living here, that can't be too difficult.

We are all currently ingesting and bathing in sodium fluoride. The city of Juneau spends approximately $30,000 each year just to purchase it. Then consider the cost of equipment and employees. They buy it from Japan, where it is banned from human consumption, as it is in many countries.

Sodium fluoride is cumulative. It builds up over the years. If you wish to read up on it you will see the various medical problems with which it's associated. Even the American Dental Association has recently advised against the ingestion of fluoridated water and fluoride tablets by pregnant mothers and young children, unless prescribed by a doctor.

So, my question is: Are we intelligent enough to make an informed decision? Or, are we just believing what we are told by one segment of the community? Either way, that is a decision we all have the right to make. Because we are talking about adding a medication to water that is used and paid for by all, it seems only right that we respect the concerns of those who do not wish to ingest it, as well as those who do. Unfortunately, as long as our drinking water is used as a medium to medicate the entire community, that is not an option for those of us who do not wish to ingest sodium fluoride.

Sodium fluoride is not necessary in the treatment of water. I would hope that the dental community would at least want you to have prescription fluoride rather than fluoridated water. As professionals they can prescribe it and educate you as to how you can regulate how much you are ingesting daily.

If you need a medication, would you rather have it prescribed by a competent physician, or just added to your water in whatever amount the government advises? Are you prepared to calculate how much of this chemical you are getting throughout the day in your meals? Are you going to calculate this daily for each person in your family, taking into consideration body weight, age, diet, etc.? Medications are that way, you know? We can't all take the same amount.

Please be considerate of the children, pregnant mothers, and the yet unborn. With the controversy that exists on this subject, do we really feel qualified to impose our will on them?

Please take a minute to contact the Assembly and let them know that you support freedom of choice. Let's really take the fluoride out of the water next time, and let those who wish to ingest it get a more reliable system of dosage. We can each have our own choice, and finally put this controversy away for the good of all.

• Sandra Eckerson is a Juneau resident.



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