Smile, New Jersey!

It’s fluoride time!


Seems that only Hawaiians have less access to fluoridated drinking water than do residents of the Garden State, and the N.J. Assembly Health Committee wants to do something about it.

The committee has unanimously approved a bill, sponsored by Assemblyman and physician Herb Conaway (D-Camden), requiring water utilities to add the substance -- which either prevents tooth decay or threatens public health, depending on which side you’re on.

Nationally, the debate erupted in the late 1940s, arose most recently in New Jersey seven years ago, and was in full cry again on radio station N.J. 101.5 this morning.

“It’s our teeth … (and our decision) to have good teeth or rotten teeth,” a caller named Dave, from Keansburg, told host Jim Gearhart. “I don’t want the government telling me.”

Not everyone with questions about the fluoridation bill is necessarily a foe of regulation: Jeff Tittel, of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, says he wants to prevent utilities from using a cheaper, “industrial grade” fluoride. Others question the cost, which will (smile!) be passed on to consumers. And still others are concerned that fluoridation is dangerous, despite decades of evidence to the contrary.

Cherry Hill’s Barbara Ann Rich, president of the N.J. Dental Association, calls fluoridation “the least expensive, most effective way of reducing dental disease.”

To see whether your New Jersey water is fluoridated, click here.