HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept 04, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — PA Fluoride NOW, a coalition of approximately 250 individuals, organizations, and community foundations dedicated to improving oral health in Pennsylvania, has added an interactive map to its website. The website will let residents find out if the water they drink contains the optimal level of fluoride to protect their teeth.
“Just over half of Pennsylvania’s citizens currently have optimal fluoride levels in their drinking water, but it’s been tough for families to know if their water supplier was taking this step to improve oral health,” said Russell Johnson, President/CEO of the North Penn Community Health Foundation (NPCHF), a leading partner of PA Fluoride NOW. “With this new, easy-to-use interactive map, that information is just two mouse clicks away.”
The map is on the coalition’s website, http://www.pafluoridenow.org. By clicking on the region of Pennsylvania where you live, you can click on your community to determine whether your water has the best level of fluoride to protect your family’s teeth.
Municipalities where public water suppliers optimize fluoride levels are shaded dark blue. Municipalities served by multiple water suppliers where some do and do not have optimized fluoride are shaded lighter blue, and municipalities where fluoride levels are not optimized are white.
“Fluoride occurs naturally in water at various levels and those levels must be adjusted to optimum percentages (only 1.8 to 2.2 parts per million) in order to prevent tooth decay. Properly fluoridated water has been proven by more than 60 years of research and testing to reduce tooth decay by 20 to 40 percent,” said Dr. Thomas W. Gamba, president of the Pennsylvania Dental Association, a member of the PA Fluoride NOW coalition. “Optimizing the level of fluoride in drinking water is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve public health and reduce health care costs.”
Studies show that the average cost of optimizing fluoride levels in a public water system ranges from 50 cents to $3 per person per year, but by optimizing fluoride it saves $38 dollars a year in health care costs.
“Fluoride in drinking water is especially important for children from low income families and families without dental insurance, who may not see a dentist regularly. Often these children end up having serious oral health problems, which are very costly when they are finally treated,” Russell Johnson said. “Taxpayers pick up the tab for many low income children who are on Medicaid, so adding fluoride to drinking water will also save tax dollars.”
Seniors can also benefit from fluoride, as two-thirds of older Americans do not have dental coverage, which is not part of Medicare’s benefits. Studies also show rural residents are almost ten percent less likely to see a dentist regularly. This is due to lower levels of dental insurance in rural areas, fewer dentists in those areas and greater travel distances to a dentist’s office.
The PA Fluoride NOW coalition members are supporting a bill in the Pennsylvania Legislature, House Bill 1649, that would require all public water systems with at least 500 connections to optimize fluoride levels.
“We have an opportunity to improve the dental health of almost half the citizens of Pennsylvania, and we should take that opportunity,” said Dr. Gamba. “As dentists, our goal is to see the healthiest teeth possible in our patients, and fluoridating our drinking water is a great way to do that.”
“Improving public health, helping control healthcare costs, and lowering the burden on taxpayers by helping control Medicaid spending on dental care are all the end results of the passage of House Bill 1649,” said Johnson. “We urge all legislators to support this bi-partisan, common sense proposal.”
The PA Fluoride NOW coalition is asking residents to contact their legislators to support this bill. A link to find your state representative and senator is also on the PA Fluoride NOW homepage.
“Now, in one location, residents can find out if their water supplier is providing the best level of fluoride to protect oral health, and how to get in touch with their legislators, urging support for this important public health initiative,” Johnson said.
To see the new additions to the website, visit http://www.pafluoridenow.org.
Contact: Peter Shelly (717) 724-1681 or Ron Ruman (717) 724-1682.
SOURCE PA Fluoride NOW
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