SNEEDVILLE — Due to its controversial nature and the community not asking for the addition of the substance, the Sneedville Utility District Board voted unanimously on June 13, 2019, to not add flouride to its public water supply.

After earlier discussions about possibly adding fluoride to drinking water, the Hancock County Eagle received letters ‘for’ and ‘against’ the addition of fluoride, all of which were published in an earlier edition.

According to Northeast Regional Health Officer for the Tenn. Dept. of Health, Dr. David Kirchke, the addition of fluoride to drinking water is recommended to help fight tooth decay.

Dr. Kirchke also stated that, although fluoride is naturally present in all water sources, amounts vary from place to place, and during the first half of the last century, dentists noticed that children who lived in areas with higher levels of naturally-occurring fluoride in their water had fewer cavities than children living in areas with lower levels of fluoride.

This discovery eventually led to the recommendation by public health officials to adjust the natural fluoride content of drinking water in areas deficient in fluoride to optimal levels for the prevention of cavities (0.7 parts per million).

Over time, the success of community water fluoridation in preventing cavities and tooth loss led to the development of fluoride-containing toothpaste and other products, he said.

For optimal dental health, TDH recommends children and adults drink water with optimal amounts of fluoride and brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.

According to the TDH, the addition of fluoride to drinking water has contributed to the decline in cavities since the 1960’s.

However, advocates against adding fluoride say that this no longer applies today.

A statement from the Fluoride Action Network, a network that seeks to broaden awareness to citizens, scientists, and policymakers on the toxicity of fluoride compounds, is one such advocate.

They said in a letter recently published by the Eagle that, contrary to early 1900’s beliefs, current science shows that ingesting fluoride is ineffective at reducing tooth decay and harmful to health.

FAN also claims that tooth decay rates declined equally in fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries.

According to FAN, dentists’ and doctors’ groups, such as The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, The International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine, The American Academy of Integrative Medicine, and The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, all oppose fluoridation. FAN concludes that fluoride is neither a nutrient nor essential for healthy teeth, which means consuming a fluoride-free diet does not cause tooth decay.

Fluoride hardens teeth topically rather than systemically, and this hardening only occurs in high concentrations, like in toothpaste.