Note from Fluoride Action Network:
A 2010 study reported that nearly half of those aged 65 or older in Kentucky were endentulous (without teeth). The article also stated, “In 2006, Kentucky ranked second [among the 50 states] in the percentage of people who were edentulous over age 65, while its neighboring state of West Virginia ranked first.” Unfortunately, statistics for endentulism by state are either no longer being reported. Fluoridation has been mandatory in Kentucky for communities with a population of 1,500 or more since 1966. (EC)
If opponents of water fluoridation have their way, state lawmakers could weaken regulations for adding the chemical to the water supply, creating a trickle down effect for tap water users in Franklin County.
In September, advocates for and against fluoridating tap water testified before lawmakers on the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government. It was a point Frankfort Plant Board member Kathryn Dutton-Mitchell brought up at this week’s meeting.
Senate Bill 86 would give municipalities the opportunity to decide whether to fluoridate the water supply. Currently, state law requires tap water to be fluoridated at a level of 0.7 milligrams per liter in most water districts across Kentucky, including the five that serve Frankfort — Farmdale Water District (8,203 customers), Elkhorn Water District (1,590), FPB (52,153), Peaks Mill Water District (3,454) and Imperial Mobile Home Park Water System (449).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 73% of U.S. water customers had access to fluoridated water, which is touted for its dramatic decline in tooth decay and considered among the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.
Fluoride aids in strengthening and rebuilding the enamel on the surface of teeth to keep cavities from forming in adults and toughens permanent teeth developing under the gums in children younger than 8. The CDC says that water fluoridation has reduced tooth decay by 25% in adults and children.
It has also been proven to save money for families and the health care system. In fact, community water fluoridation has been called the most cost-effective method of delivering the tooth decay-fighting chemical to all with an estimated return on investment ranging from $4 in small communities of less than 5,000 people to $27 for communities of 200,000 and higher.
“Fluoridation has been the second, single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay,” Dr. Darren Greenwell, president of the Kentucky Dental Association, testified to the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government last fall. “I have seen on a daily basis the devastation of tooth decay in my patients — children and adults.”
Sen. Stephen West, R-Paris, who opened the discussion at that meeting, said he has concerns about fluoridation and believes the state could work on ways to enhance dental care in the state — especially in Eastern Kentucky, where dental problems are most prevalent.
While we are open to increasing dental care in parts of the state where there are gaps, we don’t believe giving local governments the power to decide whether to fluoridate the water is the answer — especially considering its return on investment.