Florida County Votes Fluoride Out, Oklahoma Keeps It

Thursday, October 6th 2011, 8:00 pm
By: News 9

Darren Brown, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Cities across the nation have been adding fluoride to their drinking water for decades, but some are making news by voting it out.

County commissioners in Pinellas County, Florida, voted on Tuesday to stop the practice of adding fluoride to their water supply. Pinellas County became the largest urban county in Florida to discontinue the practice.  It's not clear why Pinellas County decided to end the program, but apparently it was a contentious issue, narrowly passing on a 4-3 vote.

About seventy percent of Oklahoma's communities add fluoride to their water according to Jana Winfree, dental director for the Oklahoma State Health Department.

"The overwhelming majority of medical and academic institutions do support the practice," said Winfree.  "There's 700,000 people there in that Florida County.  I think that they will suffer because of that decision."

"What you see with patients who have fluoride in their water, you see a lot less cavities," said Dr. Michelle Sanor.  Sanor owns Elite Smiles in Oklahoma City.  She's seen the effects of added fluoride and fluoride deficiency in her practice.

"If people have well water or they live in places where there's not very much fluoride you see a lot of rampant carries," said Sanor.  "They have a tendency to have more cavities than the average." 

"The adverse effects of fluoride are when you have these massive dosages over a long period of time," said Winfree.  "That's not gonna happen in the U.S. because the water's regulated here."  

There is no state mandate for adding fluoride to a community's water system in Oklahoma.  That decision is left up to local governments.