The cost of not fluoridating

By: Matt Jacob

In recent decades, opponents of community water fluoridation have developed arguments that look and sound like science. Yet many people see through the "science" veneer. A recent editorial by The Daily News (Longview, Wash.) summed it up well: "Politics, not hard science is behind the move to get fluoride out of public drinking water."

Of course, fluoride exists naturally in nearly all water supplies, so the question isn't whether or not it should be in water; it's already in there. The real issue is whether we add a little more to drinking water so we can help reduce the rate of tooth decay among children and adults. That process is called fluoridation. In its editorial, The Daily News voiced concern that a neighboring community was considering an end to fluoridation and urged residents there to "take a hard look at what most experts say about the topic."

One of those health experts is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, drinking fluoridated water reduces tooth decay by about 25 percent over a person's lifetime. Fluoridation prevents cavities, the CDC explains, "mainly by providing teeth with frequent contact with low levels of fluoride throughout each day and throughout life." Just last year, a published review of the research concluded that water fluoridation "is still the optimal method" for providing fluoride's benefits to the public and is better than relying on topical fluoride treatments in a dental office.

As The Daily News noted, those who oppose fluoridation "can spread their views quickly via the Internet, especially among people who are suspicious of government to begin with." The editorial explained that the cost of fluoridating in the neighboring community of Kalama is small compared to the costs that many local residents could face getting fillings, crowns or more expensive dental treatments:

Adding fluoride to the city’s water costs about $3,800 a year. Major dental work for just one person can easily cost more ...  If Kalama turns off the fluoride and its residents become dismayed at the bite of bigger dental bills, they can’t say they weren’t warned.

This page provides helpful information and resources about fluoridation.

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Did you know?

75% }
of American Indian/Alaskan Native children have experienced caries by age 5.
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