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Collingwood doc calls for fluoridated drinking water

‘Given we are currently updating our drinking water systems, perhaps this would be a good time to re-explore this option,’ says Dr. Wade Mitchell in letter to council
2021-10-19 Water tap
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Collingwood physician Dr. Wade Mitchell has called on the town to reconsider its stance on water fluoridation.

A letter from Mitchell that was part of the June 19 council agenda cited a recent Canadian Family Physician journal article touting the benefits of water fluoridation and asked the town to consider adding flouride to the municipal water supply.

In the letter, Mitchell called on his experience as a family physician with experience in the emergency department at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, noting the strong benefits and low, if any, risks of community fluoridation.

“Given we are currently updating our drinking water systems, perhaps this would be a good time to re-explore this option,” wrote Mitchell.

Chief executive officer Sonya Skinner confirmed to councillors that currently, Collingwood does not add fluoride to the drinking water supply.

“There is a small amount of fluoride that's present naturally in the water when it's pulled into the plant which I understand is in the range of 20 per cent of the minimum amount that would be recommended for teeth health, however there are quite strong views on both sides of this,” said Skinner.

“In Collingwood, we're a bit of a special case in that we're supplying several other communities with water. It does make it a bit more of a complex question,” she said.

Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent cavities by making the outer layer of teeth (enamel) harder. It can also help reverse early-stage tooth decay.

The amount of fluoride added to municipal water supplies to prevent cavities is based on provincial standards and federal guidelines and is closely monitored.

Scientists or doctors who oppose water fluoridation, a minority percentage of the professions, argue it has no or little dental benefit and is not effective enough to justify the costs.

According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, in the Muskoka district, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Bala, Port Carling, and MacTier all have fluoride added to their public drinking water supply.

It is estimated that 30 per cent of the population in Muskoka district have access to fluoridated drinking water.

However, Base Borden is the only community in Simcoe County with fluoride added to its drinking water.

According to a survey completed by the health unit in 2017, the majority of Simcoe-Muskoka region residents support adding fluoride to public drinking water when the natural amount is too low to help prevent tooth decay with 55.8 per cent of adults supporting community water fluoridation, 26.4 per cent opposed and 17.7 per cent undecided.

“I know there are views on both sides of this question and I'm raising this now just to make sure that our staff is aware of it and are thinking about this issue as it relates to our water system,” said Mayor Yvonne Hamlin.

On June 19, council voted unanimously in favour of receiving the letter.