BROOKSVILLE — The action needed Tuesday to restore fluoride to Brooksville's water supply was deceptively easy.
According to utilities director Will Smith, the process involved little more than hooking up a 15-gallon tank containing hydrofluorosilic acid, making a few adjustments to the automatic metering system, and letting gravity take its course.
Indeed, delivering the tooth decay-fighting chemical into residents' homes seemed almost anticlimactic compared to the battle over fluoridation that raged over the course of several months earlier this year.
In October, the City Council voted 4-1 to reverse a decision it made two years earlier during a budget hearing to end the city's 25-year-old fluoride program, which cost about $7,000 annually.
The prickly debate over whether to reinstate the program began heating up in January when officials from the county Health Department pleaded before the council to bring back the mineral additive. Council member Lara Bradburn, an adamant opponent of fluoridation who convinced her colleagues in 2011 to kill the program, once again led the charge to keep fluoride out of the water, saying the health risks outweighed the benefits. Months later, she brought anti-fluoridation activist Paul Connett to town to deliver an hourlong presentation that several professionals in the dental community later refuted.
Brooksville began its fluoridation program in 1985 at the urging of several dental professionals, who said it would be particularly beneficial to children of low-income residents who lacked access to regular professional dental care. Although a similar program was initially approved by the Hernando County Commission in 1990, it was abandoned after public complaints about possible health risks.
There is no fluoride currently added to the county's water supply.
According to Smith, the city will use a chemical manufactured by the Dumont Co. in Oveido that meets criteria set by the American National Standards Institute and is certified by Underwriters Laboratories.
Dr. Pedro Lense, a senior dentist with the Health Department, said the parents of children taking fluoride supplements will be advised to stop the treatments and contact their child's dentist.
Parents using fluoridated water to prepare infant formula may consider using purified or distilled water to prevent fluorosis, or white markings on the teeth, considered to be a cosmetic side effect, according to the Health Department.
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.