The battle over the pros and cons of fluoride continues in Tecumseh

Fluoride debate at Tecumseh Town Hall on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. (Photo by Allanah Wills)

The ongoing debate about the advantages and disadvantages of reintroducing fluoride back into local drinking water remains a point of contention in Tecumseh.

Over 25 delegates spoke in front of Tecumseh council members on Tuesday night, both in support of and against reintroducing fluoride into the drinking water supply.

In order to put fluoride back into the water, LaSalle, Windsor and Tecumseh all have to agree to it.

Windsor recently voted 8-3 to re-introduce it while the mayors in LaSalle and Tecumseh are split on the decision.

Windsor resident Richard St. Denis, one of the delegates, said he’s been an advocate for keeping fluoride out of water for over a decade.

“It’s going to cost a million dollars to put fluoride back into the water. Ninety-eight per cent of that gets used in toilets, washing your dishes and your laundry. Most of that money’s going to get wasted,” said St. Denis.

Many people have expressed a belief that putting fluoride in the water will increase oral health for those who can’t afford to visit a dentist. However, St. Deis argues that thinking is counterproductive.

“Who’s going to be paying for that? Everybody that uses the water system. Which means the low-income people that they’re concerned about with the social justice issue are going to get nailed with that bill as well as everyone else,” St. Denis said.

Another delegate who spoke against bringing back fluoride was life-long Tecumseh resident Rita Ossington. According to Ossington, there isn’t enough evidence out there that shows putting the additive back in the water is safe to consume. Orrington was a member of Tecumseh council six years ago when a vote was held to remove fluoride from the water system. On Tuesday night, she urged current members of council to keep it out.

“We have natural fluoride. Fluoride is in its soil, it’s in its water, it’s in our vegetables. We don’t need to be putting something that’s not proven to be beneficial to our health into our water,” said Orrington.

Dr. Johnny Johnson was one of the many dentists who spoke in defence of the benefits fluoride has on oral health, especially in children’s developing teeth.

“What does fluoridated water do? It gets into the gums while the permanent teeth are developing and makes them harder from the inside out,” said Johnson. “Then it gets into the saliva and constantly puts a low dose of fluoride on the teeth all day.”

According to Johnson, fluoride was has been around since 1901.  He said being fluoride in the water system has no adverse health effects and decreases cavities between 25 and 40 per cent better than toothpaste.

Many people who spoke during the meeting claimed that fluoride can negatively impact the thyroid gland and is a cause of ADHD. They also argued that putting fluoride in the water is a form of forced medication.

Johnson said those claims are false and there are thousands of official studies done on the positive effects of fluoride. He claims those who are against fluoride are cherry picking information to try and shine a negative light it.

“There are flaws in the methodology,” said Johnson. “There’s way more to this picture. It’s not cause and effect. You may say there’s a correlation, but more studies have to be done to show that,” he said.

Tecumseh council will vote on February 12 on whether or not they want to reintroduce fluoride back into the water supply.