Bedford County dentist advocating to get fluoride back in the water

She says decision to remove the chemical could lead to tooth decay

By Rob Manch - Reporter

BEDFORD, VA - The Bedford Regional Water Authority has taken fluoride out of the public water supply.

In its board meeting Thursday night, members said the decision was based on logistics and complaints from the public, but one dentist says they may be condemning thousands of kids to tooth decay.

Dentist Annie Libbey says she never got a notice but first learned about the lack of fluoride in her water by checking her water bill at the beginning of March.

It's something she calls a public health concern, and a decision she says should be reversed immediately, but not everyone agrees.

"I was shocked, I really was," said Libbey.

Libbey says when she first learned her water no longer contained fluoride, she asked around.

"I don't think a lot of people noticed it, because as I started asking other dental professionals, people at the office, it seemed like a surprise to most," said Libbey.

Libbey says she felt she had to speak up and look for answers because she says fluoride is a small issue that can have a big impact on preventing tooth decay.

"It seems like a no-brainer. This is a very inexpensive, effective way to reduce our patients' rate of cavities," said Libbey.

Libbey spoke out at the Bedford Regional Water Authority meeting Thursday.

"There is so much misinformation circling this issue," said Libbey.

Board spokesperson Megan Aubrey says the decision to do away with fluoride was based on a recent water pipeline project.

"As we were starting to get that connection from the Town of Bedford to Smith Mountain Lake, we decided to be consistent across the board and take out the fluoride in the town so that mix of water would not have fluoride," said Aubrey.

In addition, Aubrey says they received several complaints about fluoride.

One person against it is Richard White.

"The concern I think that some people might have is the effects it actually has on the body. The research that I've found is that it's not good to consume fluoride," said White.

White says if there's a dispute over the chemical, people who want it should put it in themselves.

"I put lemon in my water, why can't you put fluoride tablets if you want fluoride in your water if you're concerned you need the additional fluoride for whatever reason?" said White.

As for health concerns, fluoride added to public water supplies is considered safe by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, and as for adding it on your own, Libbey says it's not that easy.

"In order to get fluoride supplements for your children, you have to get a prescription either from a dentist or a pediatrician. The supplements are 70 times more expensive to get for your child than it would be to add fluoride to the drinking water," said Libbey.

The Bedford Regional Water Authority plans to take all of the comments heard at the meeting and continue the discussion on whether or not to put fluoride back in the county's water starting at its meeting next Thursday.

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