Local

Dentists push for Union County to put fluoride in water

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — At Pediatric Dentistry of Matthews, Dr. Meg Lochary gave one of her patients, Raelynn, a fluoride varnish. The simple treatment helps prevent decay.

On a larger scale, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Dental Association say introducing fluoride into community water accomplishes the same thing. Raelynn’s mom, Jessica Overby, says she’s worried Union County commissioners don’t want to do that.

“Just why?” Overby said. “Why would you want to take that away from our kids that need it?”

At Monday night’s meeting, most Union County commissioners advanced a measure to not put fluoride in water at the new Yadkin Treatment Plant. The plant is expected to open in the coming months. The commissioners who voted in favor said this is about medical freedom and consent.

“The decision before us tonight is actually if the Union County commissioners has the authority to forcibly medicate its residents,” Vice Chair Brian Helms said.

“For me, it is about freedom of choice and consent,” Commissioner David Williams said.

Dr. Noah Menaker, who practices dentistry in Union County, says research shows fluoride is proven to reduce cavity risk and he’s worried about the long-term effects of not having fluoride.

“We’re part of a society and this is about thinking about the greater good,” he said. “As a dentist, I would much rather give good news. The best day is when we get to tell kids and parents they don’t have any cavities. A huge part of that is fluoride.”

Union County’s proposed change will only impact water treated at the Yadkin River Water Treatment Plant. It will not impact people who get their water from the Catawba River Water Supply Project. That’s a majority of Union County water customers. Water at this plant will continue to be fluoridated. Union County’s water distribution system will receive the water from both plants. At times the county may need to open and close valves in the system so any resident could still find themselves drinking fluoridated water. The state granted Union County authority for this.

In addition to Union County, Lancaster County sources water from the Catawba River Water Supply Project. The district manager of the Lancaster County Water and Sewer District says there are no plans for Lancaster County to ask for the removal of fluoride from this water supply.

Lochary, who lives in Union County and has a practice there, is encouraging people with concerns about fluoride to talk to their dentist.

“Ask them how they feel about fluoride and ask them what they did with their own children,” she said.

Union County is not the only county that may take a stance against fluoride. Stanly County’s Board of Health heard a presentation on the topic in December. It is possible the topic may be added to a future agenda.

Lochary worries this will become a trend.

“I’m very terrified that this might be a snowball effect,” she said.


VIDEO: Union County advances fluoride ban in county-operated water