Dental official talks fluoride

Red Deer’s debate over fluoride in its water has attracted the attention of dentists.

Red Deer’s debate over fluoride in its water has attracted the attention of dentists.

Arthur Conn, a dentist, and the assistant chief dental officer for Health Canada, was in Red Deer on Tuesday to discuss water fluoridation to reduce tooth decay with local dentists and some Red Deer city councillors.

After a request to meet with city officials, Mayor Morris Flewwelling and Coun. Frank Wong attended a meeting of Central Alberta dentists and dental technicians Tuesday night. Counc. Lynne Mulder heard the presentation earlier that day.

City council has been wrestling with the fluoride question for months and consultation efforts show the public remains deeply split on the issue.

In February, city council voted to do more public consultation on whether to continue fluoridating the city’s water.

Council is awaiting a second report from administration and council will decide in the fourth quarter of the year whether to stop, change or continue fluoridation, or let the public decide in a plebiscite during the 2013 municipal election. Flewwelling said council still has a lot to discuss when it comes to fluoride.

“It’s a real challenge to council. We’re talking about the health safety of the community. At the same time, it’s a very hotly debated medical issue, not amongst the medical community, but the general community,” Flewwelling said on Wednesday.

There’s also the separate moral issue of treating water whether the public wants it or not, he said.

The mayor said at the meeting he was interested to hear that a few Quebec communities that abandoned fluoride have gone back to it due to a decrease in dental health and that while European countries stopped putting fluoride in water, they added it to salt.

Conn declined an interview with The Advocate.

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