Dentists argue merits of Milwaukee's fluoridated water

CREATED May. 23, 2012

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MILWAUKEE- The argument over Milwaukee's fluoridated water waged on Tuesday afternoon as two dentists debated the merits the current system.

The whole debate was fired up on Tuesday when Milwaukee Alderman Jim Bohl said he would introduce legislation to eliminate the city's water fluoridation program.

Dr. Bill Osmunson, DDS told Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure that Milwaukee's water supply is illegal, because the FDA never approved fluoride as a drug -- which the law defines as substance used with intent to prevent disease, is a drug.

Dr. Monica Hebl hopes that Milwaukee doesn't eliminate fluoridated water, because she, and the CDC, recognized it as one of the greatest health achievements of the 20th century.  She said fluoride is a safe, low cost public health tool and removing fluoride from water would regress the city back to the 1950s, where people dealt with major dental problems.  "I really fear we will go back to those days," said Dr. Hebl.

Dr. Osmunson believes that assertion by the CDC could become "one of the 10 greatest public health blunders in the 20th century."  Dr. Osmunson cited research saying there is no benefit to swallowing fluoride.  Dr. Osmunson argued that fluoridated water isn't safe to ingest, because the FDA says you shouldn't swallow fluoride contained in toothpaste -- yet Milwaukee drinking water contains fluoridated water.

Dr. Monica Hebl, DDS told John that more than 3,000 scientific study found that fluoridated water strengthens teeth, and is safe for ingestion.  She also noted that decay is the number one most common disease for kids and that fluoride in water decreases tooth decay -- and is particularly helpful for people that don't have regular access to dentists.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee Alderman Bohl said a hearing on the measure will take place later this month.