Council should reverse fluoride decision

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To the editor:

I am the Oconto County health officer, however, I am writing this as a citizen of Oconto Falls. On Aug. 8 the Oconto Falls City Council approved a motion to stop adding fluoride to the community water supply. This has been done since 1967.

Adjusting fluoride in the water to a level that prevents tooth decay (cavities) is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay. This adjusting of fluoride is called community water fluoridation.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. The pain caused by tooth decay affects a child’s ability to concentrate in school and limits which foods they can eat.

Drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and reduces cavities by about 25 percent in children and adults. According to the best available and credible scientific evidence, CWF is safe, effective and economical in the prevention of tooth decay. Our community should maintain water fluoridation so that our children and adults continue to receive these decay-preventing benefits.

CWF saves money. For every $1 spent on fluoridation, $38 is saved in treatment costs. In Oconto Falls, it costs each resident less than $5 each year to continue water fluoridation. Compare that to $100-$300 for one filling.

The benefits from water fluoridation build upon those from fluoride in toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste is not sufficient as it works only on the outside of the tooth. Water fluoridation works inside the body by combining with saliva, which gives the fluoride that teeth need all day long. Simply by drinking water, residents benefit from water fluoridation’s cavity protection, regardless of age, education, income or insurance coverage.

I am concerned for the health of residents. Discontinuing CWF may reduce expenses for the city in the short term. However, stopping the fluoridation will lead to higher dental costs for residents, as individuals and families pay for tooth fillings, pulling out teeth and emergency room visits. We cannot afford to end CWF.

The bottom line remains that CWF is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay. That is why organizations such as American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, American Dental Association, along with many more major health and medical organizations, recognize the public health benefits of CWF.

I support CWF and encourage residents to tell your common council members that this valuable prevention program should continue for the benefit to all residents.

Debbie Konitzer,

Oconto Falls