TRAVERSE CITY — State and local public health officials armed themselves with facts, studies, and science they said proves the benefits of adding fluoride to water to prevent tooth decay.
Now they're prepared to do battle with a small but growing cadre of people who want Traverse City officials to stop adding fluoride to the city's drinking water. The pro-fluoridating forces arrived in town after a stinging rebuke in Boyne City, where the city council recently voted 4 to 3 to end fluoridation.
Fluoride opponents, bolstered by their win, need just three city commission votes to quash a fluoride purchase contract in Traverse City.
The anti-fluoride crowd apparently already secured one such vote, from Commissioner Jim Carruthers, who for six years has tried to have fluoride removed from the water that flows from city faucets. First-term commissioner Gary Howe considered joining him. But on Friday Howe said he completed his research and planned to vote to continue fluoridation when commissioners meet Monday at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center.
Mayor Michael Estes said no local topic generates such virulent opposition. He cited a woman who accused him of murder after he voted for a fluoridation contract. Estes said city officials in recent years invited the region's medical community to comment on the fluoridation question and they came out 100 percent in favor of it.
"So how can I argue against it," Estes said.
Trusts the research
Garfield Township dentist Vincent Mack represents northern Michigan as a trustee for the Michigan Dental Association. He's decidedly pro-fluoridation and his team of speakers will address city commissioners on Monday.
"It's generated so much interest I'm blown away by it," said Mack, whose career has spanned nearly 30 years. "I absolutely see a higher correlation with more dental problems with people who refuse flouride.