San Jose adds fluoride to water, aims to expand dental hygiene efforts

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose is adding fluoride to its water starting Monday. It affects 230,000 people in East San Jose, Almaden Valley and Santa Teresa who are customers of the San Jose Water Company. Parts of Campbell, Milpitas and Lose Gatos are also involved.

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Dr. Shakalpi Pendurkar showed ABC7 News dental x-rays of a three year old with nine cavities. "When I see that, I always think to myself this IS something that could be prevented," he said.

This is why health advocates worked for more than a decade to get fluoride in San Jose's drinking water.

"The state of oral health for low income children is really abysmal and we can do treatment, and more treatment and we're also doing oral health education," said Todd Hansen of Health Trust. "But that's not enough. Fluoride can really make a difference."

Starting Monday, fluoride is flowing into the water at the Santa Teresa Water Treatment Plant. More than 200,000 customers are affected, but you won't notice a difference in taste or appearance at the tap because the fluoride is so diluted.

"The optimal amount is point seven parts per million," said Marty Grimes of the Santa Clara Valley Water District. "And there's, that's what we're aiming for is to get to that optimal amount."

The water district board voted unanimously for fluoridation after hearing a vocal opposition.

"The board has listened and really heard all sides of the issue for many years and have maintained their policy," said Grimes.

Health and dental organizations and water rates funded the $5.4 million upgrades to treatment facilities. Efforts to get the rest of the city fluoride are underway.
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