District stops giving fluoride pills to students

Shawn Hardy

The Greencastle-Antrim School District will no longer give fluoride pills to young students.

Whether to continue providing the tablets has been discussed for three to five years and the decision was made when the provider stopped dispensing tablets in bulk this year, to Dr. Robert Crider, chief educational officer, told the school board last week. The previous cost of about $1,000 a year would increase significantly with the distribution change.

For decades the district has dispensed daily fluoride tablets to children in kindergarten through sixth grade, with parental permission. The Greencastle and Antrim Township water systems are not fluoridated and well water also is not fluoridated.

About half of elementary-age children received the tablets, according to Angie Singer, primary school principal.

Crider said it's hard to tell if children are being overfluoridated since other sources are toothpaste, vitamins and dental treatments.

The district checked with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which said that many schools have discontinued fluoride programs, Crider said.

In a letter to parents, he wrote, "Our recommendation is to be sure that your children brush daily with a toothpaste that contains fluoride and/or they use a fluoride rinse. You may also want to talk further with your child's dentist for any recommendations they may have."

Board President Tracy Bear asked if the schools have toothbrushes and toothpaste for children who need them and Crider explained, "The nurses are good at meeting needs."