Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride boosts dental health

Source: The Daily Triplicate | Gary Blatnick is the director and Dr. Thomas J. Martinelli is the health officer for the Del Norte County Department of Health and Human Services
Posted on January 9th, 2009

Fluoridation in our water system was recently challenged at a City Council meeting.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Branch, provides a large variety of public health services and is acutely aware of the needs facing our community as it relates to oral health in both children and adults. Without reservation, we fully support water fluoridation and encourage every water system in Del Norte County to follow the lead of the City of Crescent City and its electorate supporting water fluoridation to benefit its residents.

Dr. Swirnoff’s support-of-fluoride comments identified in The Triplicate are typical.

The American Dental Association, the California Department of Public Health and many professional associations and governmental agencies support this tremendously successful and important contribution to the public good. Some readers may understand the negative impacts of childhood dental decay and its effects on a child’s physical, emotional and overall development.

The California Department of Public Health provides excellent facts regarding this issue. It notes more than 62 percent of the U.S. population lives in communities served by fluoridated water supplies, and adults and children benefit from drinking fluoridated water throughout their lives. Community water fluoridation has the endorsement of every major health organization in the United States and many other countries, as well as every surgeon general for the past 50 years.

Water fluoridation ranks as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. All drinking water naturally contains some fluoridate. Community water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the naturally occurring fluoride level to the optimum level for preventing tooth decay. The concentration of fluoride in community drinking water is controlled and represents no health hazards.

Each dollar spent on fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment costs. This means the $10,000 spent by the City of Crescent City on fluoridation saves $380,000 in dental treatment costs. Everyone wins!

Health-care costs are increasing and removing fluoridation would only add to that already escalating problem. Finding a better return on your investment, where $1 earns $38, would be very difficult, especially these days. Beyond the dollars and cents, you only need to see or hear a story of a child suffering from tooth decay to understand the value of water fluoridation.

It is also important to introduce facts rather than myths regarding the issue of water fluoridation. Again, this information is provided by the California Department of Public Health and the United States Department of Health and Human Services and is consistent with other nonprofit respected sources.

If fluoridation is added to the community drinking water, studies indicate that communities do not show an increase in cancer rates. Fluoride is not a poison and there are no harmful contaminates in the fluorides used for water fluoridation. The cumulative effect of exposure to fluoride from water, air, toothpaste, and foods prepared with fluoridated water provide no danger over your lifetime.

Fluoridated water is not harmful to fish, and industrial grade fluoride has been tested for safety and effectiveness. Most importantly, there is documented scientific proof that fluoridation of public water supplies does, in fact, reduce dental disease.

To promote oral health, fluoridated water needs to be accompanied by proper daily dental care and regular visits to the dentist, along with proper nutrition, including reducing sugar intake, especially in children.

In conclusion, we support the City of Crescent City’s decision to continue having fluoride in its drinking water and appreciate having the opportunity to inform the community with the facts regarding water fluoridation.

Also, we want to mention that The Wild Rivers Community Foundation has a fund that provides financial support from the Del Norte Healthcare District Board, Sutter Coast Hospital and others for low-income children in Del Norte County who suffer from severe dental conditions requiring in-hospital dentistry under general anesthesia, and who are too young to tolerate such extensive dentistry under local anesthesia. This program serves upwards of 60 children per year, and anyone can contribute to the fund.

In addition, our community has a new coalition called “Wild Rivers Smiles,” a community partnership including the Community Assistance Network, Del Norte Community Health Center, First 5 Del Norte, Coast Central Credit Union, the Smullin Foundation, the Interact Club at Del Norte High School, and County of Del Norte Health and Human Services, who periodically provide free dental supplies and information to low- income children and their families.

You can contribute to this program as well.