Fluoride Action Network

Health department, not cities, must solve dental-care woes

Source: The News Tribune | May 26th, 2005 | By Bill Evans

The News Tribune once again demonstrates an unwillingness to research and correctly report on the subject of water fluoridation, including the alternative dental-care program for at-risk children recommended by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s Oral Health Advisory Group.

A May 13 editorial states that water purveyor resistance to fluoridation does not make economic sense. A little fact-finding would demonstrate it does.

Why should water customers in Edgewood be asked to pay $340 per connection and over $3 per month to add fluoride to their drinking water, when the alternative program recommended by the advisory group would be more effective for our children and could be provided for about 25 cents per month per family?

The health department has this information and is more than willing to share it; the paper needs only to ask and publish the facts.

The News Tribune does not report that the dental caries rate in Tacoma is 59 percent and between 10 percent and 15 percent in Edgewood, even though Tacoma fluoridates its water and Edgewood does not.

Why is it the largest population center in Pierce County, with one of the worst dental decay rates, is under no pressure to improve the dental health of its children? It’s because Tacoma’s fluoridated water provides the illusion of protection, while, as The News Tribune so succinctly states, “children are still suffering.”

Isn’t this inequity worthy of some coverage? Readers deserve to get news and editorials based on good journalism, not selective “spin” provided by the health department director and the Washington Dental Service Foundation.

At a more fundamental level, The News Tribune should be questioning why any governmental agency would push for more chemical exposure rather than less. Water purveyors that avoid adding chemicals to our drinking water should be viewed as models to emulate, not scorned and criticized in an effort to sell more papers.

All seven members of the Pierce County Council recently recognized the inequity of asking water purveyors to fund dental care in Pierce County.

The council’s message was sent to the Board of Health in the form of a strongly-worded resolution. This is the latest step in the growing awareness that the health department’s approach to mandatory fluoridation is out of touch with reality.

It is time The News Tribune recognize and acknowledge it is on the wrong side of the water fluoridation issue. It is also time The News Tribune started encouraging the health department to find a countywide solution to a countywide problem. Pitting local water purveyors against the Board of Health is not the answer.


Bill Evans is the mayor of Edgewood and is a member of the Oral Health Advisory Group.