Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2001

Water holes?

Fluoride’s effect debated

October 18, 2001

When Loretta Gantenbein made her last trip to the dentist, she was surprised to find she had two new cavities in less than a year.

Gantenbein said her dentist attributed the cavities to Eudora's non-fluoridated water and told her to buy a fluoride rinse and, while in Lawrence, to fill bottles for drinking water.

"Even if you do, you cook in it and everything else," she said.

While debate surrounds how much good or harm fluoride in the water does, the issue has come up in Eudora in the past.

City Clerk Donna Oleson, who also used to work for a dentist, said the topic came up about 16 years ago. She said Eudora's water supply has some amount of natural fluoridation.

Some people worried about health problems related to fluoridated water, Oleson said.

Richard Wittenauer, a dentist who practiced in Eudora from 1988 to 1996, said he saw a big difference between the children he cared for in Eudora and those he sees in Lawrence.

His Lawrence patients need their routine exam and cleaning, and that's about it.

Patients in Eudora, however, had considerably more cavities.

"They all got sent over to Stan Byrne's to get fluoride tablets," he said, although a few parents opted out.

Fluoride enters the blood stream and gets in the developing enamel of a tooth, meaning fluoridation makes the biggest impact on children.

"After that, you don't get much benefit," Wittenauer said. "Fluoride rinse is going to be (adults') best chance of lowering the decay rate."

Water fluoridation has gotten a bad rap, Wittenauer said, including the belief that it deposits in the kidneys, causing health problems. One milligram per million parts of water is enough to affect the teeth without causing health problems, he said.

"If you give these people tons of fluoride, maybe it could accumulate," Wittenauer said.

But in proper proportions, Wittenauer doesn't doubt fluoride's benefits.

"The best time to get it is when those kids are young," he said. "You have half of the kids coming in today will make it to their 21st birthday without a filling."

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