To the editor:

Canada will celebrate the 70th anniversary of community water fluoridation on April 10.

Fluoride is a mineral that exists naturally in most water supplies. In fact, one-third of the fluoride in Peterborough water comes naturally from the Otonabee River.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Canadian researchers discovered there was an ideal level for fluoride that would help to prevent tooth decay. That is why so many communities add a little more fluoride to their water. Water fluoridation is a big reason why children today have much less tooth decay than they had 40 or 50 years ago.

Still, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease — even more common than asthma. Of course, the best approach is to prevent cavities from happening in the first place. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste and eating a healthy diet are important, and so is drinking fluoridated water.

Community water fluoridation is considered one of the 10 “great public health achievements of the 20th century.”  Fluoridation works because it provides teeth with frequent contact with low levels of fluoride throughout each day and throughout life. Best of all, fluoridation is the least expensive way to promote oral health. This is key when you consider that one-third of local residents do not have dental insurance.

Fluoridation ensures that everyone’s teeth get some protection — not just those who can afford to go to the dentist for topical fluoride treatments.

Dr. Rosana Pellizzari
Medical Officer of Health
Peterborough County-City Health Unit