Fluoridation is effective and a smart investment
Few public health measures over the last half-century have worked as well as fluoridating water. Not only does the New Hampshire Dental Society agree, so do most other respected health organizations worldwide.Fluoridation of community water supplies is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay, according to the American Dental Association. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proclaimed community water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.Currently, only 42.6 percent of New Hampshire residents on public water systems have access to fluoridated community water supplies, compared to an optimal rate of 75 percent.And New Hampshire is significantly below the national average. After a recent study, the ADA found that every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $60 in dental treatment costs. Not only is fluoridating our community water supplies effective, but it saves taxpayers money.Of the 10 largest cities and towns in New Hampshire, only four currently add fluoride to their water systems. Included on the list of those that do not is Nashua, the second-largest city in the state.According to the ADA, without fluoridation there would be many more than the estimated 51 million school hours lost per year. With 18 public schools in the Nashua area, that's too many hours lost per year. Fluoride is a trace nutrient that occurs naturally in water and foods. But the amount of fluoride in most drinking water supplies doesn't provide the optimal level to strengthen growing teeth and help protect them against decay. The correct amount of fluoride helps supplement diets, just as we do with Vitamin D in milk and iodine in salt.Even an internationally respected organization finds water fluoridation to be beneficial to our communities. The World Health Organization produced a study that concluded:"Most recently, efforts have been made to summarize the extensive database (on fluorides) through systematic reviews. Such reviews conclude that water fluoridation and use of fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses significantly reduce the prevalence of dental caries (dental decay or cavities) ... Water fluoridation, where technically feasible and culturally acceptable, has substantial advantages in public health."I encourage people to ask questions and get the facts about water fluoridation. The New Hampshire Dental Society has a website, flouridefactsnh.com, that serves to inform the public and address questions about community water fluoridation.Dr. Drew Wilson of Family Dental Care, Milford, is president of the New Hampshire Dental Society.