Local water fluoridation has long history

With every drop of water in Marshalltown, a recommended amount of fluoride comes with it. According to a staff member from Marshalltown Water Works and the Iowa Dental Association, it’s nothing to grit your teeth about.

Steve Sincox, CEO and general manager of Marshalltown Water Works, said there is some naturally occurring fluoride in the well water he treats. He said after the softening process, Marshalltown Water Works adds a little more fluoride to bring it up to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended level of 0.7 parts per million.

“The Marshalltown Water Works has been fluoridating the water here for over 50 years,” Sincox said. “That’s a decision that was made to bring our water up to the recommended level to help prevent tooth decay.”

He said adding extra fluoride to the water costs less than $1 a year per person in Marshalltown.

“That’s a very minimal investment,” Sincox said.

Mary Mariani, president of Iowa Dental Association, said she is supportive of adding fluoride to water.

“To even think about taking the fluoride away from the water, I just can’t imagine,” Mariani said. “I’m very much supportive of community water fluoridation. It’s one of the wonderful things about living in the United States and living in Iowa.”

She said she can see a difference in the teeth of people in the communities that do not have fluoride added to their water. She said water without fluoridation is noticeable in the teeth of those living in lower socioeconomic statuses.

“It helps people no matter what socioeconomic status they are in,” Mariani said. “When you take that away and then you add in poverty, which has a high carbohydrate diet and maybe not the highest dental IQ, you get kids with rampant tooth decay.”

She said adding fluoride to the water helps kids that cannot afford to go to the dentist.

“It’s proven that we have had fewer incidents especially of the rampant tooth decay in younger children by just fluoridating the water,” Mariani said. “I don’t want another kid to die of a tooth infection, that’s just silly in the United States, that shouldn’t happen.”

She said fluoridation is also important for senior citizens to help fight tooth decay because their salivary function slows down over time.

“Your older senior citizens who don’t have as much saliva any more maybe because of the medication they’re taking or just the fact they are getting older, their salivary glands don’t produce as much saliva. They need that fluoride protection as well,” Mariani said. “It’s most important for our most vulnerable parts of society, the very young and the very old.”

Sincox said he doesn’t foresee the removal of the additional fluoride in water anytime soon. He said until there is a reason or motivation to change it, Marshalltown Water Works will continue to fluoridate the water.

“I think the important thing to remember is that the Center for Disease Control said one of the top ten greatest achievements for the 20th century was adding fluoride to the water to prevent tooth decay,” Sincox said. “Many, many science based organizations feel that it’s positive.”