There's growing concern over the dental health of children in low-income families in Calgary.
A free dental service for people without insurance closed last week, and earlier this year, a University of Calgary study showed that the rate of tooth decay among children has shot up ever since the city stopped adding fluoride into our water.
Some thought that news would reignite the fight to bring back fluoride. But so far, it hasn't, but Couns. Richard Pootmans and Diane Colley-Urquart, are looking for alternatives.
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"We're taking a close look at this," Pootmans told the Calgary Eyeopener. "I'm actually the last councillor left who voted to keep fluoride in the water so I maintain an interest in this."
"There's not a ton of council support at the moment, but I've been seeking solutions about the issues and the resources to help dental health."
In a controversial decision in 2011, Calgary city council voted to remove fluoride from the city's water supply. The savings from that decision — about $750,000 a year — temporarily went into studying ways of improving dental health for children living in poverty, Pootmans said.
"It was the best we could do at the time," he said. "I think it's time to revisit this issue."
Colley-Urquhart and Pootmans have both been in contact with the Alberta Dental Association and various other stakeholders to seek other solutions.
There's little support from council for reintroducing fluoride into the water, but the issue is "not just about fluoride treatment," Pootmans said.
He said the city could look at providing more sustainable funding to the city's social agencies for dental care, or ask the province for support.
"For those in need, starting off with poor dental health often means a lifetime of poor general health," Pootmans said.
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener