… Spokane has a record of poor oral health; dentists and medical officials point to the community’s refusal to add fluoride to its drinking water. Most of the country’s major metropolitan centers fluoridate their municipal water supplies.
Dentists say the failure to fluoridate amounts to health discrimination against the children of poor families.
Those opposed to water fluoridation call it a matter of free choice. Some say the problems with tooth decay stem from diet and poor oral hygiene.
Regardless, the community’s oral health problem, especially among its children, has spurred investments and efforts among dentists, government and colleges.
“It’s hard for some patients to get treatments,” Phinney said, “so hopefully our new program can make it a little easier.”