(Buffalo, Wyo.) — Buffalo residents spoke both in favor of and against possible fluoridation of the City of Buffalo's water supply at a public meeting Monday. Dr. Mark Schueler, Johnson County Health Officer, spoke first, explaining that in 2010, the Wyoming Dental Association did a study of dental decay in Wyoming by county. "Buffalo had the highest, and we also had the lowest fluoride in the water," he said. At that time, Schuler said he began wondering about the possibility of adding fluoride to the city's water supply, much like other communities do. "If you look at data around the world, there is a connection" between dental decay and fluoride in local water, he said. "The evidence is pretty good. I felt like I dropped the ball, and felt like I should have brought this up before now." Dental decay can lead to cavities, infections, dentures, abscesses and other health issues, he said. Schuler said he was on duty in the Buffalo ER Sunday night and saw 13 patients. Two were in for dental issues. "We have a problem, and we have different ways to deal with that," Schuler said. "We can do nothing and say, 'Too bad, this is the town with the kids with rotten teeth.' ... We can say, well, let's put fluoride in the water. Many places do. It is easy, it automatically happens then. But there are some other ideas as well." Many residents, including a group called Safe Water Buffalo
, are concerned
about the possible health effects of adding fluoride to a municipal water
stream. In fact, around 150 people have signed a petition
against adding fluoride to Buffalo's water.
A similar debate happened in Sheridan last year, and the city council
approved the water fluoridation in 2015.
"I think it is self-evident that the community wants pure water for
drinking, for their health, their gardens, their trees," Buffalo resident
Mark Pierce said Monday. "From the rural health perspective, if cavities
are an issue, and this is a serious issue within Buffalo, Wyoming, then we
should do something to address it. I just don't think fluoridating the
water is necessarily the proper means."
Buffalo resident Ginger Holt said that there is a common warning against
fluoride on all toothpaste labels.
"The FDA does recognize that fluoride is a drug," Holt said. A pea-sized
amount of normal toothpaste, which if swallowed, could be cause for a call
to poison control, contains similar amounts of fluoride as a glass of
fluoridated water, Holt said.
"The FDA puts warnings on toothpaste, but remains silent on a glass of
water that contains that same amount (of fluoride)," she said. "I know
there is going to be a lot of back and forth ... But I am against
fluoridation. I think that people can get fluoride from toothpaste if they
want it, they can get it from topical application."
Buffalo dentist Brian Cotant said that a two-year-old with severely decayed
teeth is a very real problem he has seen in his practice.
But he said other avenues for delivering fluoride could be found. When the
public seems against adding fluoride to the water, he said he does not feel
city-wide fluoridation is the path to take.
"The treatment has been either do nothing or fluoridate the water. I would
love an alternative," Cotant said.
Listen to the entire meeting on 307netradio