GULLIXSON: Supervisors show backbone on fluoridation vote
Published: Friday, March 2, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 2, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.
Cheryl Willett is a passionate advocate for improving the oral health of children. It's hard not to be when you see the swelling, the fever and other signs of Sonoma County's monumental problem with decay every day.
“It's amazing. Some of these kids come in and their parents say they have not been complaining about pain,” said Willett, a pediatric dentist and director of St. Joseph's Dental Clinic in Southwest Santa Rosa. “But I honestly don't think the children know what it means not to be in pain. That is their normal.”
Unfortunately, what has been
But there's reason to believe that's changing.
Exhibit A is the unanimous decision by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to move forward with studies — believe it or not — on fluoridating the region's water supply.
The news here is not
What's interesting is
One speaker alleged that it was a tool for “mass mind control.” Another called it a “witches' brew of pollutants.”
Supervisor Mike McGuire pushed back, calling the contentions “off the charts” and said these theories were “an absolute insult.” Supervisor David Rabbitt compared the arguments against fluoridation to the fear-based complaints about vaccinations, a paranoia that unfortunately contributed to Sonoma County having the second highest per-capita rate of whooping cough in the state last year. “As a society we're now living longer than ever, thanks to those vaccines, thanks to fluoride for our teeth,” he said. “That's a fact.”
All I have to say is good for them.
Their rejoinders were not only measured, they were a refreshing departure from the more traditional governmental response of “Thank you, we are forming a committee to look into your concerns of a global fascist plot for world domination through mind control.”
We, too, have become familiar with these arguments. Last week, we published two editorials about the county's growing dental crisis, something most residents seem to know little about.
“Fluoridation is raping people of their IQ,” noted one email we received from Fairbanks, Alaska within hours.
“Fluoride is an industrial waste product
(Fluoride is actually a natural element, which is why nearly 9 million people in the nation have it as part of their natural water supplies.)
“I was shocked, disappointed and saddened by your editorial .
By Monday, we had received emails from people professing or providing links to “conclusive” evidence that fluoridation causes — deep breath here — cancer, osteoporosis, kidney failure, thyroid dysfunction, obesity, low energy, diabetes, neurological disorders, infertility, hormonal imbalances, heart disease, arthritis and brain damage.
Wow. One wonders how Minnesota
Is it possible that any of these contentions are true? Of course. But as the supervisors seemed to grasp, whether to move forward on fluoridation should hinge not on Internet-fueled possibilities but on evidence-based probabilities. And so far there's no question about what outcome is more probable.
The simple truth is one cannot prove a negative. You cannot prove there will be no ill effects from fluoridation any more than you can prove no one will be hurt if it rains tomorrow. But we need rain for the overall public good. And we need fluoridation for the same reason.
Of course, this isn't a panacea for all the county's tooth ailments. We still need more clinics and more awareness. We need to drink more water and less soda. And we
As this debate rages, let's not lose our resolve to go there.
Paul Gullixson is editorial director for The Press Democrat. Email him at email@example.com.
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