NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) – The city of New Bedford, after more than 20 years of debate and thousands of dollars spent in advertising campaigns, has joined a list of communities across the state that have added fluoride to the water supply.

The fluorinated water will hit taps Monday in the city’s North End, and the rest of the city should get fluorinated water in five to six days, Ronald Labelle, the superintendent of the Department of Public Infrastructure, told The Standard-Times of New Bedford.

Fluoride is believed to prevent or even reverse tooth decay, but can irritate and burn the skin and cause nausea if ingested in large amounts.

New Bedford stopped fluoridating its water supply in 1980.

Fluoride advocates, mainly doctors and dentists, said children in the city were in the middle of an “oral health crisis.”

They spent about $17,000 in advertising, telling residents that a small amount of the chemical would strengthen children’s teeth.

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