Jonesborough residents, medical professionals continue fluoride debate

JONESBOROUGH, TN (WJHL) – In Jonesborough, some residents are still trying to stop the town from removing fluoride from the water.

Thursday night, citizens who agree with the city’s recent vote to remove fluoride from the city’s water organized a meeting to talk about both sides of the issue.

In February, the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 3-1 to stop adding the chemical to the water at the end of June 2017. This comes after BMA members say they noticed a hole in concrete caused by fluoride at the city’s water plant.

Some local doctors and the American Dental Association say fluoride helps fight cavities and tooth decay. Jonesborough dentist, Dr. Alan Burleson spoke at February’s BMA meeting saying fluoride helps fight cavities and tooth decay and there are no linked health concerns to fluoridated water.

Dr. Burleson added that the greater good is to keep fluoride in the water for those who don’t have access to dental care.

Dr. Jay Jarman had a different view at that February meeting, he said fluoride delivered in public water supply isn’t the most effective way, fluoride only helps tooth decay if it’s on the surface of our teeth and fluoride has been linked to liver and kidney function in children.

Ron Myers organized Thursday night’s meeting. He doesn’t believe fluoride is necessary and his research also shows potential health risks. He says the only health benefit he’s heard is that fluoride reduces cavities.

“Well if you look at the primary cause of cavities it’s not the deficiency of fluoride, which is not even an essential nutrient, but the primary cause of cavities is simply overconsumption of sugar,” Myers said.

A retired dentist who spoke up at Thursday’s meeting says he expects doctors will see an increase in tooth decay and the BMA didn’t pay attention to the doctor’s in the room when they made their decision.

“I think it’s short sided I think they don’t listen to the professionals in the field I think it was just political expediency,” Lon Reed said.

The board worked out a compromise to work with local agencies and the Washington County School District on an oral health initiative to help children who are vulnerable.

“We can put something together that’ll get these kids the help they need with their oral health, you know kids aren’t being taught to brush their teeth necessarily at home,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe told us in February. He did not respond for comment Thursday.

Some at Thursday’s meeting also voiced concern that BMA members were not present.

Jon Lucas with the city’s water treatment plant says that residents should have received a ballot in the mail about a year ago asking for their opinion on fluoride. He says the results were about 60% of the customers in favor of wanting fluoride removed. Some citizens at Thursday’s meeting said they didn’t receive that ballot.

Lucas added that he feels the BMA cares and they’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on water improvement projects over the past year. And this decision wasn’t based on the $12,000 the city expects to save from removing fluoride from water.

No word yet on when Jonesborough will stop fluoridation of the water.

Area doctors, including Dr. Burleson, have a petition to keep fluoride in Jonesborough water. The petition’s creator hopes to get $1,000 and present it to city leaders.

According to the ADA’s website, more than 70 years of scientific research proves fluoride in community water is safe and decreases tooth decay rates by at least 25 percent.

The ADA said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.



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