Amherst County, VA - Health officials are warning parents in Amherst County that their children may not be getting the appropriate amount of fluoride to prevent tooth decay.
In 2011, the county Service Authority stopped adding fluoride to its drinking water, to make equipment upgrades. It was supposed to be temporary, but the Virginia Department of Health says they never put the fluoride it back in.
In October, the Virginia Department of Health sent a letter to the Service Authority, asking them to resume fluoridating the water -- or bring the issue before the board of supervisors for a decision.
Just last month, the board of supervisors voted against putting fluoride back in over conflicted reports about the standard amount.
John Dean, who runs Amherst Family Dental Care, says it's too soon to see the impact on his practice. But years from now, he expects he'll be seeing more patients with cavities.
"I know there are certain entities that are suspicious of fluoride because anything in the drinking water, they are suspicious of. The problem here is we've got many years of documentation which show that fluoride in the water reduces cavities. And if you're thinking about your own children, wouldn't you want that to be?" Dean added.
The white, powdery substance has been at the center of controversy for decades. In the early 1950's, opponents warned fluoride was part of a communist plot.
Some recent studies suggest it may hinder brain development and be linked to mental disorders like depression, ADHD.
But there's little hard evidence it's doing more harm than good, says Dr. Kerry Gateley with the Virginia Department of Health.
"This issue is not none at all or too much. The issue is finding out what is the correct balance," he added.
Dentists are urging Amherst County parents with children under the age of eight to use toothpaste with fluoride in it, supplementing what they're no longer receiving in their water.