In a historic moment for the city of Calgary, residents have voted in favor of Fluoride being added to the public water supply. The Calgary city council will still need to give their approval, though this is expected to be a formality. The return of water fluoridation is expected to result in improved dental health for the people of Calgary.
Residents of the city of Calgary, Canada, have resoundingly voted in favor of fluoride being added into the public water supply, following a plebiscite on the issue.
The issue of water fluoridation has caused substantial debate around the world in recent decades. For residents of Calgary, this has been a never-ending issue.
In what has become something of a time-honored tradition, Calgarians went to cast a vote on Monday 18th October 2021 on water fluoridation. This was the seventh vote on the issue.
The Calgary city council still need to approve the decision. However, if they do, it will mark the first time since 2011 that Calgarians will have fluoride added to water.
What is Water Fluoridation?
Water fluoridation is the practice of adding the natural mineral fluoride to the public water supply. There are many reasons behind this. One of the main intentions is to improve the dental health of residents.
The World Health Organization have gone as far to say that water fluoridation has been one of the biggest advancements in public health over the last century.
But water fluoridation is far from a simple issue. Many countries ban water fluoridation, while many cities across Canada and USA do not use water fluoridation.
Opponents of water fluoridation argue that adding fluoride to the public water supply is dangerous. Some suggest it is unethical. Others question whether or not the costs involved can justify its use. Concerns over an over-exposure to fluoride and subsequent fluorosis also exist .
Is Water Fluoridation effective?
There have been multiple studies on water fluoridation. As it is a contentious issue, researchers have always been keen on making conclusions on its effectiveness.
Many studies have been based in Canada, with some even specifically using Calgary. Most existing research suggests water fluoridation is highly-effective.
A recent study looked at the dental health of children in Calgary and Edmonton . They took into account statistics since Calgary stopped adding Fluoride to the water supply in 2011. Edmonton did use water fluoridation in this time.
The study found that tooth decay in Calgary increased significantly when compared to Edmonton . Therefore, the authors of the study suggested this proves the importance of water fluoridation .
Similarly, another study found worrying statistics for the city of Windsor, Ontario. Windsor opted to remove fluoride from the water supply in 2013. Since then, the study found that there had been a 51% increase in children requiring urgent health care .
The 2021 Calgary General Election took place on Monday 18th October. Among the issues Calgarians voted on was water fluoridation.
Calgary has had a long and complex relationship with fluoride. Residents voted against its introduction in 1957, 1961, 1966 and 1971.
However, in 1989 a landmark vote decided fluoride would be added to the public water supply. A further vote in 1999 upheld water fluoridation. But in 2011, the Calgary city Council decided to stop water fluoridation, citing economic concerns .
Calgary voters were asked the following: “Are you in favor of re-introducing fluoridation of the municipal water supply?” It was a simple yes or no answer.
In the end, the “yes” vote won. There were 205,320 voters in favor of adding fluoride, with 128,568 against it. This represented a 62%-38% split . Voter turnout was just under 47%.
What do these results mean?
Calgarians are expected to see benefits to their oral health as a result of the vote. Fluoride is crucial to maintaining oral health.
It must be stressed however that a plebiscite by definition is not legally binding and that the city council will have the final say on the issue.
If, as expected, the council ratifies this decision, they will start to arrange the infrastructure needed to implement water fluoridation.
The council expects costs to be approximately £30.1million over a 20-year life span . This includes $100,000-$200,000 per year on maintenance.
While there have been some fears that water rates will increase, the council have said they do not expect an increase.
Juliet Guichon, a medical bioethicist at the University of Calgary, said she was “thrilled” and “delighted” by the results , something echoed by those who were advocating for fluoride’s return.
Guichon mentioned that she felt the pandemic had “caused people to appreciate public health all the more”. But she also guarded against complacency, urging supporters to continue pressuring the council to go forward with the plans.
The process to reinstate fluoride will take approximately 18-24 months . While many will expect the fluoride to be here for the foreseeable future, if there is one city that this can never be certain in, it is Calgary!
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a dental clinic based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We provide our patients with a warm welcome, a comfortable experience and advice whenever needed.
We recommend that our patients attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals.
Importantly, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is helpful.
 Robbins, O. (2018). Is Fluoride Bad for You? Or Is Adding Fluoride to Water A Good Thing?. Available: https://foodrevolution.org/blog/fluoride-in-water-dangers/. Last accessed: 22nd October 2021.
 McLaren, L., Patterson, S. K., Faris, P., Chen, G., Thawer, S., Figueiredo, R., Weijs, C., McNeil, D., Waye, A., & Potestio, M. (2021). Fluoridation cessation and children’s dental caries: A 7-year follow-up evaluation of Grade 2 schoolchildren in Calgary and Edmonton, Canada. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology. (Pre-publication issue): https://doi.org/10.1111/cdoe.12685.
 CBC News. (2018). Windsor to put fluoride back into the water after council vote. Available: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/windsor-council-water-fluoride-1.4947723. Last accessed: 19th September 2021.
 O’Neill, B., Kapoor, T., & McLaren, L. (2018). Politics, Science, and Termination: A Case Study of Water Fluoridation Policy in Calgary in 2011. Review of Policy Research. 36(1), p99-120.
 Elections Calgary. (2021). 2021 Results – Calgary General Election. Available: https://www.calgary.ca/election/results/2021-results.html. Last accessed: 22nd October 2021.
 Elections Calgary. (2021). Fluoride in Calgary’s water. Available: https://www.calgary.ca/uep/water/drinking-water/fluoride.html. Last accessed: 22nd October 2021.
 Dormer, D. (2021). Calgarians vote yes to fluoride in city water supply. Available: https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/calgarians-votes-yes-to-fluoride-in-city-water-supply-1.5628622. Last accessed: 22nd October 2021.