Groups push for fluoride in public water systems
Three youth advocacy groups are launching an effort to educate the public about the importance of oral health and to encourage communities to adopt stronger preventive measures.
In many states, including Maryland, the population is virtually covered. But in neighboring Pennsylvania, for example, just over 54 percent of residents live in homes connected to public water systems with fluoridated water.
Officials in some communities have lobbied against the additive because they fear excess amounts have health repercussions or cost too much. Fluoride comes naturally in water and they don’t want public systems adding more.
But the groups behind the new Campaign for Dental Health say science is on their side and many dental groups back them up, including the American Dental Association and the Institute of Medicine. They’ve launched a website called iLikeMyTeeth.org.
They point out that 45 million Americans lack dental insurance, and dental problems can hinder health and development. Just over 72 percent of Americans live in homes with fluoridated water, according to the groups. In nine states less than half the population get the additive: Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisana, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon and Wyoming.
“Although children’s teeth are healthier overall than they were decades ago, we still have a long way to go,” said Bill Bentley, president and chief executive of Voices for America’s Children, in a statement. “A study last year showed that nearly one out of seven young children aged 6 to 12 had suffered a toothache in the previous six months. In a single year, more than 500,000 California children missed at least one day of school due to a dental problem. Communities should not deprive children of fluoridated water, which is a proven way to fight tooth decay.”