BIDDEFORD — I find it disturbing that the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District board and its superintendent have chosen to support a small group of local residents who support the anti-fluoride group Fluoride Action Network and its unscientific internet attack on community water fluoridation.

The Fluoride Action Network has flooded the Web with its propaganda, and it uses this medium shrewdly. That doesn’t make it right. The water district board and Superintendent Norm Labbe are not doctors or public health experts, and are not there to make judgments about the safety and efficacy of community water fluoridation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency responsible for keeping us safe from diseases, and which employs hundreds of scientists trained to the doctoral level, supports community water fluoridation.

They study the science of community water fluoridation on an ongoing basis and have consistently supported it. In fact, the CDC has declared fluoridation to be one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.

Last Dec. 22, Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., the surgeon general of the United States, released a statement supporting the safety and efficacy of and need for the continuation and promotion of community water fluoridation. It can be found on YouTube and on the surgeon general’s website.

Community water fluoridation is also supported by the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the World Health Organization, as well as the American Dental Association and the American Dental Hygienists Association. The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute support water fluoridation, as does the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Over 100 respected medical and health organizations support fluoridation. So does the American Water Works Association. No widely respected health organization opposes it, yet the superintendent and board of the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District think they know better.

In 1983, I was a young dentist, fresh out of Tufts, with a new practice. A patient of mine convinced me that joining the local Rotary Club would be a good way to increase my visibility in the community, while providing useful service to it.

New Rotarians are often asked to present a luncheon talk on a subject of their own choosing. Mine focused on the benefits of community water fluoridation. The Biddeford-Saco water system at that time was not optimally fluoridated, and many of my pediatric patients were coming in for their visits with significant and multiple areas of dental decay.

Rotary being Rotary, I was soon surrounded by a number of my fellow members, asking why our citizens were not receiving the benefit of community water fluoridation. Within a few weeks, I found myself chairman of a fluoridation drive.

A group of about 20 local residents began collecting signatures and promoting the benefits of optimal levels of fluoride in the Biddeford-Saco water system. Many people, including more than a few of my colleagues, said that this referendum would never pass – but in 1985, it did, by a landslide.

The Biddeford-Saco water utility has done an exceptional job of maintaining optimal and safe levels of fluoride in our drinking water over the intervening years, and the results have been spectacular. The decay rate in local children decreased dramatically (and would be even less if sugary sports drinks were eliminated in favor of good old water). Many young people in our communities reach adulthood without a single restoration of any kind in their mouths.

I’ve done many things during my 35-year career in dentistry, including co-founding a free clinic, serving as a founding trustee of a new dental school, helping to bring the Donated Dental Services program to Maine and serving as president of a number of local, state, national and international groups.

I consider that successful drive to bring the benefits of community water fluoridation to our citizens to be my most important achievement, and I bristle at those who use scientifically unsupported arguments to try to take those benefits away from our citizens.

Depriving the children and adults in the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District of optimally fluoridated water – that means they add only 0.4 parts per million, because the water already has 0.3 ppm, according to the district manager – will lead to a resurgence of tooth decay, as is shown in numerous studies, for the many residents who get water from this public utility. Don’t listen to those who would bring the dental health of our children back to the 19th century.

— Special to the Press Herald