Dr. Andrew Wiemeyer
Duxbury resident, local dentist
Fluoridation of community water supplies has been proclaimed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. According to the best available scientific evidence, fluoridation is safe, effective, and economical in preventing tooth decay. Today, three in four Americans benefit from fluoridated water, more than 214 million people. The residents of Duxbury are part of the growing number of people who enjoy the decay-preventing benefits of fluoridation. For that reason, I hope they reject the Special Town Meeting article that would put us on the path to ending it.
What’s important to keep in mind is that public health policy is built on a strong base of scientific evidence. When you consider the depth and breadth of research related to fluoridation that has been conducted over several decades, the overwhelming weight of that evidence supports its safety and effectiveness. Even with the widespread availability of fluoride toothpaste, studies show water fluoridation prevents at least 25 percent of tooth decay in children and adults throughout their lifespans. Simply by drinking water, people benefit from fluoridation’s cavity protection -- regardless of age, race, or socio-economic status.
As a dentist, my first concern is my patients’ health. Dental decay is one of the most common childhood diseases -- five times as common as asthma and seven times as common as hay fever in 5- to 17-year-olds. As people are living longer and keeping their teeth longer, I treat dental decay in patients of all ages. It’s difficult to watch people suffer needlessly from cavities that could have been prevented with access to fluoridated water. Fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water deliver a one-two punch in the fight against cavities.
Bottom line, community water fluoridation remains the single-most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay. That is why the American Dental Association and more than 100 other national and international organizations recognize the public health benefits of fluoridation.
I write this letter on behalf of the overwhelming majority of health practitioners who know that we all benefit from water fluoridation in Duxbury, and that it would be a downright shame to lose it.
Duxbury resident, local caterer
A drug by definition is a chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or diagnosis of disease or used to otherwise enhance physical or mental well-being. Therefore, adding the “drug” sodium fluoride to the town’s water supply is an unethical form of mass-medication that violates the principle of informed consent, where any person is allowed to decline any medical therapy. We don’t prescribe medical therapy via the public water supply for any other medical condition. Why is it being done here, particularly when it is impossible to accurately control the dosage each individual gets?
Sodium fluoride is NOT the naturally occurring fluoride. It’s a chemical by-product purchased by the town of Duxbury from fertilizer and aluminum companies in China. There is no inspection of the fluoride coming to the United States from the Chinese manufacturer and none done by the town’s water department before it is added to the public well sites.
If you are pro-fluoride, you have choices. It is found in toothpaste, mouthwashes, certain foods, bottled water, teas, and other beverages. These other sources can provide ample amounts of the fluoride recommended by the American Dental Association. However, residents of Duxbury who choose not to ingest fluoride do not have a choice when it comes to their public water supply.
Once added, fluoride cannot be easily removed by conventional water filters. People today are practicing better oral hygiene, eating more healthily, and have better access to dental care. None of Duxbury’s neighboring towns fluoridate their water except for Pembroke. Only six water systems in Plymouth County fluoridate their water.
Fluoride should be personal choice.
Individuals should have the right to decide what they put into their own body, and in this day and age when we are constantly bombarded with hazardous chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides, why would anyone deliberately add another potentially harmful one to our water supply, particularly when there are plenty of alternative ways to get it if so desired?
For these reasons, I urge my fellow residents to support my petition article at the Sept. 19 Special Town Meeting to begin the process of ending the town’s fluoridation of our water.
Last week’s Argument: Should voters pass the ballot question in November to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts?
Yes: 96 percent (1,256 votes)
No: 4 percent (46 votes)
As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.