City officials and local health advocates in Buffalo, New York, were recently shocked to learn that the city’s water system had stopped fluoridating drinking water in 2015. Regulations established by the Safe Drinking Water Act require a report each April of the previous year’s water quality. Yet, water officials in Buffalo only disclosed this in their most recent report. A variety of steps have been taken to protest or correct the lack of fluoridation.
Local dental professionals are urging city officials to press the water system to resume fluoridation as soon as possible. Dr. Courtney Peterson, a pediatric dentist, said, “I’ve noticed a big uptick in kids with cavities and not just simple cavities — like full-mouth [decay].”
The water system said it stopped fluoridation while making an upgrade to its infrastructure. A member of the Buffalo school board said he was “dumbfounded and troubled” that the water system waited six years to disclose this cessation.
In addition, a group of Buffalo residents have filed a civil lawsuit against the city, raising concern that their dental health has been compromised by the water system’s decision to cease fluoridation. The attorney handling the case said the community “needs a lot more answers” about when and why the water system ceased fluoridation without any public disclosure for over six years. The plaintiffs want the city to add dental clinics to address the oral health conditions that have arisen at least partly due to discontinuation.
The plaintiffs’ attorney said residents and dental providers should have been informed right after fluoridation was stopped. “If [the city] had been on notice that they needed to find alternative sources of fluoride, maybe we could all proactively have found a way get that done,” said the attorney.