Title of letter: Fluoridation necessary
The editorial “Say ahh, and wow!” missed an important issue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water fluoridation, known to prevent 40-65 percent of all tooth decay, costs less than $1 per person per year. Further, every dollar spent on fluoridation prevents $38 in dental treatment.
It is unconscionable that only 65 percent of Arkansans enjoy the benefits of water fluoridation when we know from more than 65 years of research and practice that fluoridation is safe, effective and economical. While 1.8 million Arkansans are protected by this proven public health measure, shortsighted, ill-informed individuals subject the remaining million Arkansans to pain and disfigurement. The sad fact is that 187,000 Arkansans over age 40 have no teeth. Fluoridation of all community water systems in Arkansas would reduce this number by 65,450.
The ravages of tooth decay go far beyond rotten teeth. Oral disease affects general health including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even pre-term, lowbirth-weight babies.
Water fluoridation was trumpeted by the CDC as one of the most important health measures of the 20th century. Now that we are in the 21st century, every community and water system not currently providing this benefit to their residents and customers needs to step up and help their community and its residents. This would go a long way toward helping people who can’t afford dental care avoid dental problems in the first place.
JOSEPH W. THOMPSON / Little Rock
Joseph W. Thompson, M.D., is surgeon general of Arkansas.