In a KPTS-TV forum Thursday, a dentist and lawyer argued that water fluoridation is a common-sense measure to save kids from tooth decay, while a doctor and chiropractor argued that it’s ineffective and unsafe.
Thursday’s event marked the first time the two sides’ leaders shared a stage to argue the issue, which was brought to the ballot by petition. On Nov. 6, Wichita voters will decide whether to fluoridate the water for their city and several neighboring communities.
The TV station shied away from calling Thursday’s forum a debate, but both sides came prepared for a spirited defense of their views.
“Is it ethical to medicate entire communities without the individual giving their consent or without an individual diagnosis?” said Stephen L’Hommedieu, the anti-fluoride chiropractor. He went on to characterize the type of fluoride used in drinking water as “a toxic industrial hazardous waste produced by the phosphate fertilizer industry.”
The pro-fluoride dentist, Rob Dakin, said he sees a substantial difference in the teeth of his patients who grew up in Wichita and those who grew up in communities with fluoridated water. He said fluoridation would alleviate a lot of pain and suffering.
“There is not a dentist in the world, including myself, who enjoys putting a filling in a 3-year-old child,” he said.
“We have recently been confronted by a study by the Bureau of Oral Health that 58 percent of Wichita children have tooth decay,” he added. “This makes Wichita the highest area and the worst in our state. Areas that have higher fluoridation have much less tooth decay.”
Dakin and his partner, attorney Pamela Ammar, argued that fluoridation – provided to three-fourths of Americans, including residents of Maize and El Dorado – has been tested in more than 3,000 studies and found safe, effective and cost effective.
L’Hommedieu and his partner, Robert Hinshaw, a doctor with the Riordan Clinic in Wichita, argued that fluoridation could cause side effects, especially fluorosis, a discoloration of the tooth enamel. And they said the 3,000 studies cited by proponents were almost all ruled inadequate by a study at the University of York in England.
“They have the largest database in the world, particularly regarding health, but on all aspects of civilization practically,” Hinshaw said.
Ammar challenged Hinshaw’s contention that 3,000 studies could be invalidated by one university in England.
“In the United States we have every reputable health-care organization – ADA (American Dental Association), the AMA (American Medical Association), Centers for Disease Control – they all support this,” she said.
She also said that because of naturally occurring fluoride, Dodge City drinking water has 2.1 parts per million fluoride – three times the level proposed for Wichita’s water.
“We’re not seeing any of these possibilities or any of these diseases, and I just really think that is misleading to the public because it scares them, and I don’t think that’s fair,” she said.
L’Hommedieu said studies from other countries are as valid as U.S. research.
“People are the same worldwide,” he said. “Fluoride is toxic, it’s everywhere.”
Added Hinshaw, “In regards to everybody does it (fluoridation), everybody used to think the world was flat, too.”
The forum will be rebroadcast on KPTS at 2:30 and 8 p.m. Friday.