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A lot of American cities have been fluoridating their water supplies for more than 60 years.
Most doctors and dentists endorse fluoridation of public water as a means of reducing tooth decay, a major health problem. Every major health organization supports the practice, including the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Wichita remains one of the rare holdouts, with a naturally-occurring .3 parts per million of the element in its drinking water. Experts say water needs about .7 parts per million do prevent tooth decay.
"We're the fourth-largest city in the United State that hasn't adjusted the fluoride level," said Dr. Larry Hund, a pediatrician in Wichita. "The other ones are San Antonio, Honolulu and Portland, Oregon."
Dr. Hund said adding fluoride in the drinking water would save an estimated $4.5-million a year in dental work.
Hund grew up in Wichita, and he has several fillings and other dental work. He said he's seen evidence in his own family that proper fluoride levels in water helps dental health.
"My wife grew up in Dodge City. They have, I think, .7 or .8 parts per million out there. She grew up with wonderful teeth. All four of her brothers did, too," Hund said.
Wichita City Council members have been receiving telephone calls from anti-fluoridation activists from out of state. Some opponents believe fluoride harms peoples' IQs, damages bones and causes a dental condition called fluorosis, which is caused by higher-than-recommended levels of fluoride.
Dr. Hund disagrees with the detractors.
"They're using a lot of what we call junk science," Dr. Hund said. "They're using a lot of unproven statements. They're twisting statements around."
A formal kick off of the ballot effort will be held Thursday, July 12 at 5:30 p.m. at GraceMed Clinic in Wichita. The clinic is located at 1122 N. Topeka.
For more information, visit www.wichitansforhealthyteeth.org.