Caledon’s water supply should be fluoridated to combat a higher incidence of dental disease among children in the area, a Peel Region report says.
Health and public works officials are conducting a cost benefit analysis of adding fluoride to 13 communal wells in the town before a final recommendation to council, says a report from medical officer of health Dr. David McKeown and health commissioner Peter Graham. The Bolton area is not included because it already receives fluoridated water.
Health department studies have found about half of Caledon’s children suffer from dental decay or disease, compared to 37 per cent in Brampton and 38 per cent in Mississauga, where the water is fluoridated. Those cities get water from Lake Ontario.
“It is likely that the absence of fluoride in the drinking water supply is the major contributing factor to the higher prevalence of dental disease,” according to the report, which concludes fluoridation is the most effective way to reduce childhood dental decay in the town of 50,000.
Health officials are also looking at how rural residents still on private wells can receive appropriate levels of fluoride in their drinking water.
The report also looked at other strategies for improving dental health of children in the region.
Officials recommend the provincial health ministry fund treatment of non-urgent dental care for children of the working poor who do not have access to benefit plans. Subsidized dental care is only available for such children once their conditions progress to pain, bleeding or infection.
However, children of parents on welfare may receive regular subsidized visits to the dentist and a full range of preventive care and early treatment of tooth decay.
“In other words, when a parent secures employment and no longer requires (welfare) benefits, their child may lose access to appropriate dental health care,” the report says.