Another attempt to fluoridate Wichita’s water kicked off Thursday night.
The group "Wichitans for Healthy Teeth" held a news conference to formally launch their campaign. Hundreds of local medical professionals support the group's goal and have put together a petition they hope to present to the City Council.
“Our goal is to bring forward the real science and get the ordinance changed in Wichita so we can have community fluoridation,” says Dr. Lucynda Raben.
Raben, a Wichita dentist, says the group will try to convince city leaders to say "yes" to fluoridation.
“We plan to roll out the program and say this is what we would like our city council to do, this is the science behind it, and this is the number of medical professionals who have signed on."
Raben acknowledges the strong opposition the group could face. Council members say they’ve received calls from all over the country from people and groups who oppose fluoridation.
Wichita is the fourth-largest city in the United States not to have fluoride in its water. While some water is naturally fluoridated, most American cities have added fluoride to their water supply for decades.
“It's very frustrating to have someone outside the community try to hijack our council and community," says Raben.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the reduction in tooth decay because of fluoride in water one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.
Opponents of fluoridation often argue it dulls the senses, makes people more docile and causes health problems. Experts say those claims don't hold up.
The American Dental Association, which represents 160,000 dental professionals nationwide supports fluoride in drinking water. It has since 1950.
The American Medial Association "urges state health departments to consider the value of requiring statewide fluoridation and to initiate such action as deemed appropriate."
Concerns over water flouridation date back to fears of Communist influence in the United States during the late 1940's and 1950's.
This week, the Derby City Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of fluoridation. Derby is Wichita's biggest water customer. The city manager says a resident approached the council there and after some research, members voted to support it.
"Wichitans for Healthy Teeth" wants to meet one on one with City Council members. Half of the council has yet to say where they stand on the issue.
“They (council members) want to be sure to collect all the data and take the time to hear from everyone,” says Raben.
In our exclusive FactFinder 12 Scientific Survey, fifty-four percent of Wichitans say they support fluoridation. Thirty-three percent were against it. Thirteen percent were not sure.