In a referendum held on October 25, residents of Waterloo, St. Jacobs and Elmira, Ontario, voted to remove fluoride from their municipal water supply. Those against water fluoridation were narrowly victorious, garnering 50.3% of the vote and winning by 195 votes out of 30 727 ballots cast.
“The Ontario Dental Association is disappointed that the residents of Waterloo have voted no to fluoridating their municipal water,” said Dr. Harry Hoediono, a dentist from Kitchener and president-elect of the ODA. “While we respect their decision, we want to remind these citizens that over 90 international and national health organizations support the public health benefits of water fluoridation.”
Although the referendum result was non-binding, the Waterloo regional council is expected to accept the majority decision and disconnect fluoride equipment at its water treatment sites by the end of the year.
The city of Waterloo, which has approximately 120 000 residents, has fluoridated its water supply since 1967. However, the nearby cities of Kitchener and Cambridge choose not to fluoridate their water.
According to a 2007 report from the Region of Waterloo Public Health Unit, the caries rate for children living in these cities was 44% in Kitchener, 33% in Cambridge and 32% in Waterloo. While Dr. Hoediono acknowledges that water fluoridation is not the only factor affecting these caries rates, he does expect tooth decay to rise in Waterloo with the removal of fluoride from the drinking water.