Wichitans for Healthy Teeth submitted 11,333 signatures on petitions in support of adding fluoride to Wichita’s water to the city clerk’s office on Friday.
The organization, a volunteer coalition of dental practitioners and members of the public, has been going door-to-door since June gathering signatures. It needs 6,211 verified signatures to put the issue on the City Council’s agenda.
To mark the end of its petition drive, the organization held a rally outside City Hall on Friday, where about 30 people wearing stickers and holding signs cheered to show their support.
Organization leaders and local dentists Lucynda Raben and Sara Meng spoke briefly about the results of the petition drive and why Wichita needs fluoride in its water.
Adding fluoride to Wichita’s water would cost households only 9 cents a month, Meng said. She compared that with the expense of a dental filling — more than $150.
Opponents of fluoridating Wichita’s water question the benefits of fluoridation and point to possible negative health effects.
Once the Sedgwick County Election Office verifies each signature, the petition will be presented to the City Council.
The council has 20 days to either pass an ordinance to fluoridate the water or let the issue go to a vote on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Recently, Eastborough and Derby – which buy water from Wichita – passed resolutions calling for Wichita to add fluoride to its water.
Wichita is the fourth-largest city in the United States that doesn’t fluoridate its water.