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Ocala

Despite resident outcry, City Council approves fluoridation in Ocala’s water supply

Despite multiple residents expressing their desire to see the city of Ocala end its fluoridation practices, members of the City Council approved an amendment that makes the city adhere to the state of Florida’s levels of fluoridation.

During the June 4 meeting of the city council, residents and local dentists took to the podium to express their concerns in both continuing and discontinuing the practice to add fluoride to Ocala’s water supply.

“Fluoride is not good for your teeth or cavities. None of this is healthy for human consumption, but humanity is being forced to consume it by means of fear,” said Stephen Jennings, a resident who lives at NE 3rd Pl.

Jennings decried the practice as a means of control for governments to sedate and “dumb down” citizens.

“When people speak out against the system, they are made to look crazy,” added Jennings.

Resident Stoney Bearden concurred with Jennings, asking the council to reconsider its position on fluoride before making any decisions.

“I implore [the council] to reconsider your position on fluoridation. I implore you to look at the fluoride that you’re putting in the water,” said Bearden. Bearden suggested that the fluoride being used was not the mineral fluoride, but rather, sodium fluoride.

“It’s not the natural mineral fluoride. It’s sodium fluoride. It’s a toxic waste,” added Bearden.

He also spoke of the cities around Ocala that didn’t partake in the fluoridation process, as well as bigger cities around the state and overseas.

“Dunnellon doesn’t fluoride. Palatka doesn’t do fluoridation. Big cities like West Palm Beach don’t do fluoridation. Boca Raton doesn’t fluoride its water. Lots of cities across the country, in fact, all of western Europe no longer fluoridates their water,” concluded Bearden.

Ocala’s ordinance has been in effect since the city began fluoridation in the 1950s. The ordinance requires that the city fluoridate its water supply to one part per million (i.e., 1 mg/l). The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) currently recommends maintaining fluoride concentrations at 0.7 mg/l, and although Ocala had been following the FDOH recommendation and fluoridating with an average fluoride concentration of 0.7 mg/l, this was in conflict with the ordinance.

This past March, an initial recommendation was made by the Water Resources Department to repeal the ordinance and stop fluoridation. The Utility Advisory Board unanimously voted for the repeal and for the City of Ocala to stop fluoridation of municipal potable water.

However, around one month later, the Water Resources Department revised its recommendation and instead sought to amend the ordinance and fall in line with Florida State Statute for the appropriate range of fluoridation. Along with presentations from the public, the Water Resources Department presented a new recommendation in favor of continuance of fluoridation to the Utility Advisory Board on May 1. The Utility Advisory Board unanimously approved the continuance of fluoridation.

During the June 4 meeting, multiple medical professionals supported the move to continue fluoridation, urging city council members to heed the Utility Advisory Board’s recommendation.

Dr. Johnny Johnson, a dentist based in Palm Harbor, is the president of the American Fluoridation Society and suggested that fluoridation has enabled the city to prevent cavities for 63 years.

“Mother nature showed us this, and we just happen to mimic it. Cavities have fallen off precipitously in this country,” said Johnson.

Johnson went on to suggest that the moves to stop fluoride in cities and nations across the world were not based on science, but rather, on general fear.

“It never has ben based on science to stop [fluoridation]. It’s based on political will or scare tactics,” added Johnson.

Dr. Suzi Thiems-Heflin, who operates a dentist’s office on NE 25th Ave, suggested that during her time treating children, she has seen greater decay and oral health problems from children who live in cities without fluoridated water.

“In my practice I see kids of all ages. Kids who have lived in Ocala all their lives, kids who live out of state, and kids who live out in the country. The children that live in the city have very few oral health problems, very few cavities,” said Thiems-Heflin.

Thiems-Heflin suggested that oral pain caused by a lack of proper oral hygiene could be a huge distraction to students,  explaining that at times, she has to treat children with toothaches that force them to leave school.

“Anything that we can do as a community to help keep cavities at a minimum for both kids and adults, is a benefit for us all. Please keep Ocala’s water fluoridated, our citizens need it,” said Thiems-Heflin.

Ultimately, the city council decided to approve the measure, which means that now Ocala will adhere to the Florida Department of Health’s standard recommendation.

What are your thoughts about fluoride? Share them in a comment, a letter to the editor, or through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Photos in Ocala, Florida

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