A ten-fold increase in family yearly dental bills and rises in tooth decay would occur if the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority removed fluoride from its water supplies to customers.
That's what Lycoming-Clinton Dental Society representatives told the authority Wednesday in response to a local dentist, Dr. Anthony Cipolla, and other anti-fluoridation activists calling on the authority to consider removing the treatment from its water supplies and tap water for 18,000 customers.
Cipolla, who presented findings and expressed his concern last month to the authority, was not named by the dentists, but they said they were compelled to respond after reading subsequent newspaper coverage.
Cipolla argues that fluoridation of municipal supplies is too much when added with toothpaste and that the chemical in water supplies, activated by saliva, can lead to brain disorders among children and other ailments such as arthritis development.
"We've taken the lead on being preventive," said Dr. Robert Frederickson, a local dentist. "I view this as a frivolous lawsuit," he said of the anti-fluoridation campaigns. "It's one of our own who is kind of turning on us."
"We polled 60 dentists in our local society," said Dr. John Hayes, who presented his findings based on numerous peer review studies. "They refute the information given by the lone dentist and oppose the call to remove fluoride from our city water."
Hayes said, should fluoride be removed, he could see increased loss of teeth, both permanent and primary, or baby, teeth. He said there would premature loss of baby teeth, which can lead to dental crowding and possible improper meshing of teeth later on, potentially causing difficulty chewing food.
"Emergency room visits for serious dental reasons will increase dramatically," Hayes said. "The number of abscessed teeth will increase, which can lead to serious illness that can be life threatening."
Moreover, he said, access to dental care for the public would be made worse because of the increased need for dental care - "with not enough dentists to care for all the patients - regardless of one's ability to pay."
To understand the fluoridation issue better, people should realize one part per million of fluoride in city-supplied water is equal to 1 inch in 16 miles, Hayes added.
"The public needs to trust that their leaders are making the right decisions regarding public health and safety - and regarding the fluoridation issue - the public trust continues to be rewarded with less dental decay," Hayes said.
Dr. Richard Troxler, a local dentist, said he's seen less tooth decay now than he did when he started practicing dentistry 27 years ago. In 700 printed articles over the past five years, 98 percent of the dental professionals agree with fluoridation of water sources, he said.
Troxler, who considered himself to be a researcher of the research, said adding fluoride to municipal water supplies is the accepted position of the 63 dental schools in the nation.
David Tule, a hygienist from Milton, said fluoride tablets are available to be handed out in schools, but he is seeing a surprising number of parents who aren't participating in the program. Tule said these children don't have the benefit of authority customers, with fluoridation in the water supply.
The authority, meanwhile, accepted the information without taking a vote, and will review the written and oral presentations before coming to a conclusion.