SPRINGVILLE — Springville’s citizens were invited to screen the documentary film “The Great Culling” at the Springville Center for the Arts on March 16. The movie was given the tag line “Wake up and smell the fluoride” and was followed by a discussion about ways to make drinking water safer.
The event was facilitated by Erie County resident Mark Maussner, who has spearheaded the local drive to eliminate fluoride from Springville’s public drinking water. That resident also helped establish the Springville Anti Fluoridation Group. Maussner called water fluoridation “a forced delivery system of a medication” and an “outdated and scientifically flawed practice.”
The information Maussner recently submitted to the Springville Village Board, with a request to end water fluoridation, included the claim that the treatment is “ineffective and harmful.”
The Bureau of Water Supply Protection alerted the New York State Department of Health to the local anti-fluoridation group’s efforts.
“Increasing access to fluoridated drinking water has been included in [New York State Commissioner of Health Nirav Shah]’s ‘Prevention Agenda for a Healthy Environment,’” according to Public Health Engineer David Rowley. “A great deal of misinformation has been propagated ... that misleads laypersons into believing that fluoridation is bad, for public health. Of course, that is not the case.”
Sodium fluoride is injected into Springville’s public water system, at the North Central Avenue water plant. “Fluoridation has a long history of being beneficial, especially to children of the community,” Springville Mayor William Krebs said. “Our fluoride program is based on sound science and medical recommendations.”
Dr. Joseph Rumfola of Family Dentistry in Springville said that fluoride, which is naturally occurring in many places, all over the world, is “helpful in two forms: topical and ingested. Chemically, it is the same.”
The ion, which can also be found in milk, toothpaste, mouth rinse, chewing gum, bottled juices, bottled water and other products, is prescribed, by dentists, in capsule form, to children who do not ingest publicly treated water.
“Ingested fluoride is incorporated into the teeth, as they are forming,” Rumfola said. “This is especially important for children.”
The Fluoride Action Network said, “Researchers have now overwhelmingly rejected the notion that swallowing fluoride is either necessary or effective, for preventing decay. Instead, the current consensus is that fluoride’s benefit (whatever it may be) comes from topical contact with teeth, after the teeth have erupted into the mouth.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that parents ensure that children aged 6 months and older ingest fluoride, as their teeth are forming. “After age 2, most children get the right amount of fluoride to help prevent cavities, if they drink water that contains fluoride and brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, twice a day.”
The CDC said that children aged 6 months and older should begin taking fluoride supplements, as recommended by a doctor or a dentist, if the child’s home water does not contain enough fluoride.
“The use of fluoride is very much a children’s issue,” Krebs said. “Think of the children. Studies continue to support this. People who have had fluoride always have better teeth.”
Rumfola agreed that fluoride treatment is most important for children, as their teeth are forming. “I see a lot of people with a lot of fillings, especially older people,” he said. “A lot of adults tell me they wish they had [ingested] more fluoride.”
Individuals drinking untreated water are often encouraged, by dentists or doctors, to take fluoride supplements, especially when they are young.
“We monitor the intake,” Rumfola said. “I do not recommend that kids use fluoridated toothpaste until they can spit. That way, you know how much they are ingesting.” He added that parents should remind their young children to rinse, after brushing their teeth. “That removes excess topical fluoride.”
Most adult toothpaste sold in stores contains fluoride. While Rumfola said that ingested fluoride is important, because it strengthens teeth, from the inside, as they are forming, he said that topical fluoride is also essential, because it makes a tooth’s surface layer more resistant to decay.
“Decay is bacteria on teeth that eats carbs and produces acid,” he said. “It eats away at teeth. The more fluoride, the less likely the tooth will get eaten away.”
According to the Missouri University of Science and Technology, streptococcus mutans is “the main cavity- and halitosis-causing bacteria in the mouth.” Rumfola said that this bacteria exists in every mouth containing teeth.
“There are two ways to lose teeth,” he said. “Gum disease and decay. Decay is one of the most common diseases.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Although dental restoration technology has made great strides, any type of filling or device is more likely to need additional work, in the future, than is an intact tooth.”
Clinic staff members recommended fluoride as the No. 1 way to fight cavities. “Adding fluoride to public water supplies has helped decrease tooth decay significantly,” read a study on www.mayoclinic.com. An additional clinic study recommended fluoride treatments for those who “aren’t getting enough fluoride, through fluoridated drinking water and other sources.”
The New York State Department of Health said that “every $1 invested in fluoridation saves at least $38 in cost for dental treatment.”
Rumfola said that treated public water was most necessary for children, and that, “if people are taking care of their teeth, ingested fluoride for adults may not be necessary. But there are a lot of people who don’t take care of their teeth.”
He added that “relying solely on patient compliance is problematic and just being able to drink water and know that we’ll have fewer cavities is comforting. This is not a government conspiracy, nor should it be a controversy.”
According to the CDC’s “Fluoridation Basics” publication, “This method of fluoride delivery benefits all people, regardless of age, income, education or socioeconomic status.”
Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona said he supported public water fluoridation because “a person’s income level or ability to receive routine dental care is not a barrier to receiving fluoridation’s health benefits.”
Rumfola said that, if the village of Springville were to cease treating its public water, “we would see an increase, in tooth decay.”
A 2013 Journal of the American Dental Association article concluded that “water fluoridation is effective, above and beyond any other practice in which a person might engage to prevent dental [decay].”
Approximately 70 percent of America’s public water is treated with fluoride. According to the United States Library of Medication, National Institutes of Health, because a low number of individuals are reached by the European public water systems, many of those countries provide their citizens with “fluoridated domestic salt.”
“Community water fluoridation has been recognized by CDC as one of 10 great public health achievements, of the 20th century,” Shah said, congratulating Springville Chief Water Operator David Sullivan on the village’s “efforts to help improve oral health and reduce tooth decay.”
The village of Springville was recently awarded a Water Fluoridation Quality Award from the CDC.
While “The Great Culling” was shown, by the anti-fluoride group, at the Springville Center for the Arts, SCA Executive Director Seth Wochensky said, “Springville Center for the Arts, being a community-supported organization, makes the facility available, for a variety of community uses. The recent evening, which featured a screening of ‘The Great Culling,’ was a rental of the space and, while Springville Center for the Arts values diverse viewpoints and dialogue, the organization takes no stance on the content of the film or discussion that followed.”
For more information about the CDC, visit www.cdc.gov.
For more information about “The Great Culling,” visit www.thegreatculling.net.
For more information about the Springville Anti Water Fluoridation Group, visit www.meetup.com/Springville-Anti-Water-Fluoridation-Group
. For more information about the NYSDOH, visit www.health.ny.gov.