A new study from the Eau Claire City County Health Department said Eau Claire city children have healthier teeth than surrounding communities.
The reason: fluoride in the water, making them up to 16 percent less likely to have cavities.
The six-month study of more than 500 third graders showed more cavities and tooth decay in students who are boys, minorities, or live in towns where fluoride is not put into the water by 12 to 16 percent compared to ones that do.
“Normally, your teeth will be a certain kind of calcium, but with fluoride it makes it more strong and prevents cavities by inhibiting bacterial growth too,” Brandon Botsford, dentist at Midwest Dental said.
City utilities administrator Jeff Pippenger said the city adds about 12 to 15 gallons of its 9 million gallon daily production and that it’s measured every two hours.
“If the level starts getting too high, we’d be able to catch that immediately before it got out into the system,” Pippenger said.
Augusta and Altoona do not add fluoride to their water, but their school districts offer it free to elementary students with parents’ permission.
Health experts said hesitation remains, but at a price of about one dollar per person each year, the cost and health benefits are proven.
“For every dollar we spend on fluoridation, we save between 7 and 42 dollars in needed dental care,” city/county health director Richard Thoune said.
“I think it makes people uneasy when they have to be forced to ingest something that they’re not really asking for, but … the benefits will outweigh the risks in most cases,” Botsford said.
NEWS RELEASE FROM EAU CLAIRE CITY-COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT:
Eau Claire, Wisconsin – November 2, 2012. The Eau Claire City-County Health Department and Healthy Communities Council Oral Health Promotion Action Team announced the results today (November 2) of a recent dental health survey of third graders in Eau Claire County schools. Ten schools in the Fall Creek, Augusta, Altoona, and Eau Claire Area School districts were screened.
A total of 535 children 8-10 years of age were surveyed for untreated decay, need for early or urgent dental care, and presence of dental sealants. Third graders living in areas with water fluoridation were 12 to 16 percentage points less likely to experience cavities, untreated decay, and a need for early or urgent care than those living in areas without water fluoridation.
“I was a student at the time and participated in gathering the results for this study. I grew up in Fall Creek and my family still lives there. I understand that Fall Creek fluoridates the water only 6 months out of the year. With the results of this study, I would hope the town could find a way to fluoridate the water year round,” states Brianna DeGrasse, a registered dental hygienist.
Dr. Tony Pilgrim of Fall Creek Dental states, “We know that water fluoridation protects the smooth surfaces of the teeth, including the roots. So even if teeth are sealed, the benefits of water fluoridation are very important in protecting the smooth surfaces.”
For communities that are currently reviewing their water fluoridation practices, the findings from this study are timely given the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposal that the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water be set at the lowest end of the current optimal range (1.0-0.7 ppm) to prevent tooth decay.
“This screening project validates the public health impact of community drinking water fluoridation. When added to drinking water, it has repeatedly been shown to be a safe, inexpensive, and extremely effective method of preventing tooth decay. The CDC concluded every $1 spent on water fluoridation saves $7-$42 in oral health treatment costs, depending on the size of the community. The project will assist service providers with targeting their efforts to the identified dental needs for children in our community, “ said Richard Thoune, Director/Health Officer with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.
In the fall of 2011, twelve second year dental hygiene students from Chippewa Valley Technical College and two registered dental hygienists contracted through the Eau Claire City-County Health Department conducted the first third grade survey for the county. The project was done over a 6 months using a nationally recognized protocol recommended by the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD).