Fairmont Water Department employee Kevin Taylor, left, Town Manager Katrina Tatum and Water Department employee Ronnie Seals, right, accept a CDC Water Fluoridation Quality Award from Tillie Clark, regional state dental hygienist.
Corey Walters, assistant director of Lumberton’s Public Works Department, accepts a CDC Water Fluoridation Quality Award from Tillie Clark, regional state dental hygienist.
At the monthly Robeson County Board of Health meeting on Feb. 27, Tillie Clark, regional state dental hygienist, provided CDC Water Fluoridation Quality awards to the town of Fairmont and the city of Lumberton. Accepting the awards for Fairmont were Town Manager Katrina Tatum and Water Department employees Ronnie Seals and Kevin Taylor. Accepting for Lumberton was Corey Walters, assistant Public Works director.
As Clark noted, fluoridation is considered one of the 10 great public health achievements in the 20th century in the United States and we are a fortunate community to have it provided in most areas.
So what else is in the top 10 list? The others are vaccinations, motor vehicle safety, recognition of tobacco use as a hazard, family planning, healthier mothers and babies, safer and healthier foods, control of infectious diseases, safer workplaces and decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke. It is safe to say that all of these are still works in progress in the 21st century.
The importance of these awards being handed out at the board meeting was that last year Robeson County was faced with the prospect of not adding fluoridation to the water because of chemical and equipment issues. Like many other places, the equipment goes back 50-plus years — in fact fluoridation has been occurring for 75 years — so repairs are not an option. The Health Board had been approached about providing a resolution to discontinue fluoridating, as this was required before any action could be taken by the county. An alternative plan was developed, but this decision was not required and fluoridation continues. Needless to say, it would be very difficult for a board whose sole consideration is public health to advocate for the removal of one of the great accomplishments.
What has changed over the years is the amount of fluoride that is available through toothpaste. However, community water fluoridation remains the most efficient and cost-effective way to deliver fluoride to everyone in a community irrespective of their age, income or education. The goal is to prevent cavities and there has been a 25% reduction of this condition because of fluoridation.
Like everything else, there is an anti-group that opposes this healthful addition. Their argument revolves around fluorosis (white or dark spots on the teeth because of overexposure of chemical), excessive intake (most children use too much toothpaste so this exacerbates the problem), violates informed consent, doesn’t prevent 100% of cavities, health concerns in various tissues, misinformation spread through the internet and it is counter to holistic health. Recognizing those concerns, nearly all public health, medical and dental organizations recommend water fluoridation. Those entities still providing it in Robeson County are applauded for doing so.