Despite it might mean a cut in his business, one Lebanon dentist is championing the cause to return fluoride to the city’s water system.
Dr. Chad Williams with Smile Gallery in Lebanon said he’s gotten more than 500 signatures on a petition that asks Lebanon leaders to consider adding the naturally occurring compound in liquid form to the water supply.
Williams told the Lebanon Rotary Club during its lunch meeting Tuesday the process would be done once with a $120,000 price tag. But he said the benefits far outweigh the cost.
“No dentist in town opposes fluoride in the water,” Williams said. “In all honesty, we will all probably be crying all the way to the bank if we don’t start adding fluoride to the water again.”
Williams said the city stopped adding fluoride by hand to the water supply in 2005 shortly after Hurricane Katrina demolished the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Mississippi. He said the business that supplied the city with the fluoride granules that were added to the water supply was damaged and unable to continue to produce the compound. Because the fluoride supply stopped, the regular addition to the water also stopped.
Williams said he has seen an increase in cavities in patients who previously had none, as well as deeper cavities in patients.
Mayor Philip Craighead, a Rotarian, addressed Williams’ request during the meeting. He said his office has been inundated with emails in opposition to adding fluoride to the water supply since Williams started his effort.
Williams began the presentation by explaining the history of water fluoridation and dispelled misconceptions about the practice that started in the 1940s in Michigan.
Williams said some of the misconceptions include:
• no scientific research to back up fluoride causes cancer.
• fluoride is not a pesticide.
• doesn’t cause allergic reactions.
• not banned in Europe, rather it’s added to the salt supply instead.
• strengthens bones.
• no link to fluoride and bone cancer.
• does not damage teeth unless too much is ingested.
• practice is not mass medication.
• does not cause autism.
• is a naturally occurring compound already found in water.
“It’s already there,” Williams said, calling fluoridation a safety health measure. “We are asking that we add it to get to the correct levels.”
Williams said the one-time $120,000 cost equates to about $1 each from city residents, but would save each person about $38 in dental treatment costs. He said several surrounding cities, such as Mt. Juliet and Gallatin, fluoridate their water. Watertown doesn’t add fluoride to its supply.
Williams also cautioned about toothpaste. He said although toothpaste does contain fluoride, it generally isn’t exposed to the body enough on a daily basis to show health benefits other than keeping teeth clean. He said it’s important not to swallow toothpaste since the fluoride in it is concentrated. He said the fluoride contained in a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is enough to properly treat 5 gallons of water.
Rotarian Bob McDonald introduced Williams during the lunch meeting at the Lebanon Golf and Country Club.
“Chad is a great community servant,” McDonald said. “He’s involved with a number of activities in and around Lebanon.”
A Kentucky native, Williams moved to Lebanon in 2001 after graduating from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. He’s married to Betty Williams, and the couple has two boys, Jonathan and Jackson.