Commissioners of Soddy-Daisy's water treatment system voted Tuesday evening to stop adding fluoride to their water supply.
The vote was 6-1, with Commissioner Carlos Wilson casting the only vote in favor of fluoride.
The vote came despite objections from local dentists, who had argued that fluoride is a proven method for fighting tooth decay.
"I'm excited and thrilled by the decision," said Chiesa Smith, one of several local residents who told the board they believe fluoride is a health hazard.
With the vote, the North West Utility District, which supplies water to about 7,500 residents of Soddy-Daisy and several neighboring communities, becomes the first water system in the state's four largest counties to stop adding fluoride to its water. About 54 percent of Tennessee water systems currently fluoridate their water.
Dentist Dr. Brian Schenck, head of the Chattanooga Area Dental Society, said after the vote he was disappointed.
If fluoride is no longer in the water supply, "hopefully a good number of people will be able to supplement their intake of fluoride in other ways," he said.
Several of the commissioners who voted to drop fluoride said the ability of local residents to protect their teeth by using toothpaste or mouthwash that contains fluoride was a factor in their decision.
"I did my research and learned 95 percent of toothpaste and a substantial percentage of mouthwash has fluoride added," said commissioner Bill McGriff, who is also Hamilton County auditor. "There are other ways to get fluoride without requiring everyone to get it."
Commission chairwoman Phyllis Marr agreed.
"Water is not the only place to get fluoride for children," she said.
Wilson, who cast the lone yes vote, said simply that he thought fluoride "is a good thing and not a bad thing."
The board's decision will be put into effect almost immediately. Water system general manager David Collett said he will stop adding fluoride to the water supply as of this morning.
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