In 2007 Wood Buffalo stopped the fluoridation of the water supply and some believe that this has caused an increase in tooth decay in area residents. Dentist Tod Beaulne sees the consequences that removing the fluoride from the water supply has caused when he sees patients at Graystone Dental. Beaulne told a journalist that “I notice young people growing up in Fort McMurray have a high decay rate. But the older patients who lived here for decades, back when fluoride was in the water when their teeth were forming, don’t.” A recent study performed at the University of Calgary which was released earlier this year showed that Calgary children tended to have worse teeth than Edmonton children. Calgary stopped fluoridating the water in 2013 while Edmonton still continues the practice.
Even though the study shows that fluoridation can help minimize tooth decay Wood Buffalo does not have any plans to start adding fluoride to the water again according to municipality manager of sustainable operations Travis Kendall. This does not mean that municipality managers doubt the science or the health impacts that stopping fluoridation can have. Kendall explained “Suppliers have not been able to guarantee long-term supplies of fluoride for us. That leads to a hurdle of consistency. When it comes to water treatment, frequently adding or removing chemicals based on how available they are may compromise consistency and quality.” Another issue is allowing people to make their own decisions about their health. Kendall also stated “We want to respect the public opinion and expectation and, in that 2012 survey, the public told us we shouldn’t be forcing fluoride on anybody. It’s impossible to opt out of fluoride unless you stop drinking tap water. For that reason, and the logistical side, we haven’t added fluoride back.”