Smile! San Jose, Nation's Largest City Without Fluoride, Finally Gets the Natural Mineral

In a big win for Silicon Valley dentists sure to give them a wide, sparkling smile, a large portion of San Jose will begin on Monday to receive fluoride in its drinking water to help reduce tooth decay.

Until now, San Jose has been the nation’s biggest city without the natural mineral in its drinking water. Critics, who have feared that its toxic, have fought it off. In fact, the John Birch Society was accused of calling it a Communist plot to poison America. In a 2014 YouTube video, a spokesman clarified that the position of the group was against the "mass medication of citizens by government."

The use of fluoride is endorsed by the American Dental Association, American Medical Association, CDC, California Department of Public Health, American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization.

For years, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have been pushing for the switch and were able to get a $6.2-million drinking water treatment plant passed, according to the Mercury News.

San Francisco has offered fluoride since 1951, Oakland since 1976, and cities throughout California, such as Los Angeles and San Diego, along with Contra Costa, Marin and San Mateo counties, all add fluoride to the drinking water, the Mercury News reported.

The Health Trust donated $1 million, First 5 Santa Clara County gave $900,000 and the California Dental Association Foundation donated $500,000, the Mercury News reported.

On Monday, 230,000 people in East San Jose, Almaden Valley and Santa Teresa who are customers of San Jose Water Company will begin receiving fluoridated water.

By 2020, after the water district has finished upgrading its two other water treatment plants, another 520,000 people will receive fluoride, including residents of West San Jose, Cupertino, Saratoga and other parts of Los Gatos, the Mercury News reported.

About 415,000 people in the county already have fluoride, according to the water district. They include residents of Palo Alto, Mountain View and parts of Sunnyvale whose fluoridated water comes from San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy system, as well as 100,000 or so residents of Evergreen, Alviso and North San Jose who are customers of the San Jose Municipal Water System, which has provided fluoride for years.

By 2020, roughly 1.16 million county residents will have fluoride, still leaving 700,000 people without it, the Mercury News reported. Those residents, in places like downtown and Willow Glen, get their groundwater from San Jose Water Co. wells.

Other parts of the county, such as Gilroy and Morgan Hill, rely entirely on city-owned well water, which is not fluoridated.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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