Calgarians will be casting a vote on a Water Fluoridation plebiscite for a seventh time in October 2021. Calgary has a complex history with water fluoridation, therefore, the upcoming vote is expected to be very close. Students from the University of Calgary are among those to be strongly campaigning for the reintroduction of water fluoridation.
Water Fluoridation has always been a controversial subject. In October, the population of Calgary will cast a vote on a new plebiscite that is proposing the reintroduction of water fluoridation.
This will be the seventh vote in Calgary on the issue, and the first since water fluoridation was abolished in 2011.
Both sides are campaigning ahead of the vote. A group of students at the University of Calgary are among those most vociferously supporting the “yes” vote.
Water fluoridation involves adding the natural mineral fluoride to the public water supply. This has the intention of improving the dental health of residents.
The World Health Organization have praised water fluoridation as being one of the biggest advancements in public health over the last century.
However, many argue that adding fluoride to the public water supply is unethical, not worth the money, could be dangerous, and lacks the evidence to justify its use.
The issue is not limited to Calgary, with similar debates happening across Canada and in countries around the world. Consequently, many countries have banned water fluoridation.
The Debate in Calgary
Opinions on water fluoridation in Calgary are mixed. Fluoride was first used in 1991, but was stopped in 2011. Because of economic and ethical concerns, the city of Calgary made this decision .
Statistics show that fluoride has a positive effect on dental health. The effect is stronger for children than adults .
For instance, a recent study analysed the difference in the oral health of children in Calgary and Edmonton, since Calgary made their decision to stop fluoridation .
The study found that tooth decay in Calgary has increased far more than in Edmonton, where water fluoridation remains . The authors suggested that this highlights the importance of water fluoridation.
Similarly, in the city of Windsor, Ontario, a study showed that a 2013 decision to remove fluoride from the water supply was behind a 51% increase in children requiring urgent health care in the region from 2011-12 to 2016-17 .
Furthermore, since 2011, dental infections that require intravenous antibiotics have increased 700% at the Alberta Children’s Hospital .
Opponents of water fluoridation question the ethics of forcing residents to consume fluoridated-water. They also point out that too much fluoride can result in fluorosis. Fluorosis causes dark spots to appear on teeth.
Because of the above statistics and studies, many students at the University of Calgary are supporting the vote.
The student-ran advocacy group Fluoride: Pay it Forward, are at the forefront of the campaign. They have targeted fellow students because they benefited from growing up when water fluoridation existed in Calgary.
There is some resistance as a result of various factors. For example, stopping water fluoridation has saved the city of Calgary approximately $750,000 per year .
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a dental clinic based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We offer our patients a warm welcome, a comfortable experience and advice wherever needed.
We recommend that our patients visit our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for regular dental check-ups. If any problems are detected, we have a range of treatments to provide effective care and restore oral health.
Above all, we recommend brushing our teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is helpful.
 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.
 Parnell, C., Whelton, H., & O’Mullane, D. (2009). Water fluoridation. European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry. 10(3), p141–148.
 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.
 Rieger, S. (2019). ‘Children are Suffering’ as Calgary’s 60+ year Fluoride debate drags on, Bioethicist says. Available: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-fluoride-debate-2019-1.5340271. Last accessed: 19th September 2021.