Calgary councillors explore alternatives to fluoride in water

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.

Fluoride was removed from city water in 2011

A University of Calgary study showed tooth decay is on the rise among children since the city stopped adding fluoride into our water in 2011. (iStock)

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.

"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."

Councillors Diane Colley-Urquhart and Richard Pootmans are exploring alternatives to help low-income families with dental care (CBC)

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

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.