A coalition of local health groups have launched a new effort to add fluoride to Portland's drinking water.
"Everyone Deserves Healthy Teeth Coalition," supported by about 70 organizations across the region, hope to have a hearing before Portland City Council as early as next month, according to a spokeswoman.
Portland dentists behind the effort describe a growing dental crisis in Oregon, especially affecting low-income families with less access to dental care.
"When you look at the disease, it's preventable," said James Smith, DMD, who sees the problem first hand. "That's the thing that breaks your heart."
It's estimated more than 35 percent of children in Oregon have untreated tooth decay, higher rates than children in neighboring states; Oregon ranks fifth-worst, nationwide, according to stats collected by "Everyone Deserves Healthy Teeth."
"We're the largest city left in the country that hasn't fluoridated the water," said Kylie Menagh-Johnson of "Everyone Deserves Healthy Teeth."
However, not everyone supports the effort. The group, "Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water," worries about long term health and cost concerns.
In the past, Portlanders have voted against fluoridating the water, the last time in 1980.
Local dentists supporting the new effort says recent studies have shown fluoridated water is safe and effective.
Commissioner Randy Leonard who oversees the Portland Water Bureau says he supports the effort. However, it's not known how long before this could move forward or be heard by city council.
Nearby cities, including Beaverton and Forest Grove, already fluoridate their water.
Copyright 2012 KTPV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.