A group of concerned citizens is calling on city council candidates to make fluoride a priority and some experts say they have seen a spike in cavities and dental surgeries in the city since it was taken out of the drinking water six years ago.

‘Calgarians for Kid’s Health’ met at the Parkdale Community Centre for a public information meeting on Monday to discuss the issue.

During the session, a panel of dental experts presented their findings, saying that fluoride can greatly improve oral health in children.

The panel also faced some tough questions about a recent study that was conducted at the University of Toronto.

The research showed that mothers with relatively high levels of fluoride in their urine, around 0.9 mg/L, had children with lower intelligence.

“A current study shows that Canadian women fluoride levels, urine fluoride levels, are less than half of that and in fact, in that study their control group is that of what current Canadian mothers have of fluoride levels in their urine,” said Dr. June Dabbagh. “So we can’t relate that to Canadians.”

Dentists with the group said that the study also didn’t account for all of the different factors.

“They didn’t rule out confounding factors because they can’t. I give the authors credit; this is not against the authors, what I’m saying, because they said it in their article. We couldn’t rule out certain toxins like lead and arsenic. We don’t have that data. They couldn’t do it,” said Dr. Dabbagh.

Dr. Dabbagh says that more than 60 years of research has shown that fluoride in the drinking water at 0.7 parts per million is safe and effective.

“The science has shown us over and over again, there is no debate, it’s clear amongst us, we just need to make sure that the public gets it,” she said.

Alexander Columbos is running for councillor in Ward 6 and says he believes the issue deserves another look.

“We heard today there was a lot of issues, in terms of dentists filling more cavities, doing a lot more dental work related to tooth decay and disease and if fluoride can help stop that, we’ve got to take a serious look at that. I’d like to understand more but it’s very clear that there’s a safe way that it can be administered and the dosing obviously has to be correct and if it can be in the city water that can be great and we’ll see if that can happen,” he said.

In 1989, Calgarians voted to add fluoride to the drinking water but council voted to remove it in 2011 citing costs and health concerns.

“We have done harm, actually, by removing it. When you look at the statistics and the recent research that was done, so, absolutely, we need to talk about this. I’m going to start talking about it this afternoon as I hit the doors,” said Dianne Colley-Urquhart, Ward 13 councillor.

“My position is definitely to reopen the discussion at city hall immediately after the election to ensure that all the evidence on both sides is aired and then an appropriate decision is made on behalf of the citizens on Calgary,” said Brent Alexander, Ward 7 candidate. “I am overwhelmingly in favour of fluoride at this point.”

Edmonton added fluoride to its water supply in 1967 and continues to do so.