Fluoride Action Network

Editorial: Declaring war on children’s teeth

Source: Daily World | May 28th, 2009

It’s hard to figure what some of our elected leaders have against dental health for children.

First, fluoridation. This flap came up after the Legislature last year decided to require proper fluoride levels in municipal water systems of any size.

The object is the same as with the fluoride in toothpaste: protect teeth, especially kids’ teeth, from decay.

It’s true that the American Dental Association has warned against using fluoridated water to mix baby food concentrates that already contain supplemental fluroide.

There is also a question about the potential ill effects of fluoridate water on pregnant women and very young children.

That risk might seem unreasonable after European studies showed more or less equal declines in tooth decay among children in countries with and without fluoridated water.

It’s important to note that the state mandate is about maintaining the fluoride concentration at effective yet safe levels, in the neighborhood of 1 part per million.

As for Europe, nations there tend to have health care systems that deliver dental care more frequently and effectively to children than we’ve managed.

As you’d expect, Louisiana doesn’t do as well without fluoridation.

Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine recently cited a Medicaid study that said eligible children from parishes without fluoridation were more likely to be hospitalized for conditions related to tooth decay.

And Medicaid expenditures on those children were more than double those in parishes with fluoridation.

Yet the Lafayette City-Parish Council was snippy when it passed a resolution opposing fluoridation here.

Members mocked fluoridation as an unfunded, half-million-dollar mandate and an unwarranted surrender of our God-given right to a throbbing abscess.

Our next story involves the Louisiana Dental Association.

Parts of Louisiana are served by mobile dental vans that visit schools and care for the teeth of kids who are enrolled in Medicaid.

The association – made up of dentists – would like to see this stopped, for no apparent reason other than to eliminate competition.

The amazing thing is that the association actually found someone, state Rep. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, to flop this bill in front of the Legislature. It’s hardly improved by a compromise amendment in which the association agreed to allow mobile dental vans that meet standards established by the State Dental Board – made up of dentists.

We find it hard to tell which is more offensive: the disregard for the public health or the lack of political deftness in a state where fluoride might be lacking, but gall gushes forth in an endless stream.