As the last current Councillor sitting on City Council who voted against the removal of fluoride (along with Mayor Nenshi) in 2011, I have been speaking in the media about the importance of having fluoride in our water for the dental health of all Calgarians, and in particular, for those children in poverty. Poor dental health in children can have serious impacts on a child’s medical health, with lifelong consequences.
The latest research by Dr. McLaren from the University of Calgary shows a significant increase in cavities in children since the City has removed fluoride. Edmonton also has had an increase in cavities over the same period and an overall higher rate of cavities, even though they have been fluoridating throughout the same period. Contributing factors to this conundrum may include socio-economic factors, public education or lack of access to dental care. These factors and likely others need to be part of a broader understanding of the issue.
It is clear to me that fluoridation is likely only part of the solution in dental care, particularly for those in need. I believe that there is a robust cost/benefit case for fluoridation – everyone will have improved dental health at a small cost. Are there potential risks? Possibly, however, in my opinion the benefits outweigh these risks.
Should Alberta Health be more engaged in comprehensive solutions? I have met with the Zone Lead Medical Officer of Health for Calgary, Dr. Musto, and challenged Alberta Health policy on the issue of fluoridation. As dental care and health care are so codependent, surely this health issue should be considered broadly as a Provincial issue. Alas, no. Even just the funding of the fluoride product will not be available to the City. I will continue to investigate possible solutions to this problem.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.