To the Editor:
Bravo to the Valley News for its wise and commonsensical editorial on Dec. 2, “Bradford Regresses.” As a pediatrician, I see children every week from Bradford who will be hurt by the removal of fluoride from the water. We have an oral health crisis here, and both kids and seniors are counting on us to heed science and prevent problems before they occur.
Fluoride is neither “poison” nor a “medication.” It is a mineral that is found naturally in most public water supplies. It is part of the Earth’s crust, and is present in the Atlantic Ocean at higher concentrations than fluoridated drinking water supplies. “Fluoridation” is the process by which fluoride levels are adjusted (down or up) to the optimal level for preventing tooth decay and contributing to healthy bones.
There are several examples of how products we consume daily are fortified or adjusted to enhance the health of Americans, just like fluoridated water. Iodine is added to salt, folic acid is added to breads and cereals, and Vitamin D is added to milk. Nobody considers Vitamin D poison, do they?
In fact, U.S. court decisions have rejected the argument that fluoride is a “medication” that should not be allowed in water. The American Journal of Public Health summarized one of these rulings, noting that “fluoride is not a medication, but rather a nutrient found naturally in some areas but deficient in others.” Not only is fluoridation safe, it is one of the most cost-effective health prevention strategies ever devised. A community that stops fluoridating or never even begins the process of fluoridation spends more money on decay-related dental problems. Evidence shows that every $1 invested in fluoridation saves $38 in unnecessary treatment costs.
At a time when more than 100 million Americans lack dental insurance, many of them right here in our own community, fluoridation offers an easy, inexpensive preventive strategy that everyone benefits from simply by turning on their tap.
I urge the Bradford water commissioners to heed sound science and proven public health successes and put the fluoride back into Bradford’s water supply.
Steven H. Chapman