Letter: Cost-Effective Way to Promote Oral Health

To the Editor:

The Upper Valley Oral Health Coalition is a group of Upper Valley residents who recognize the importance of oral health. Drawing upon the knowledge of practicing dental and medical professionals, directors of local health foundations and community health workers, Upper Valley Oral Health members discuss the most pressing oral health access and advocacy issues and opportunities to address those needs.

We are facing a huge public health challenge. Cavities and other dental disease affect more children than any other chronic disease. But it’s more than children. The Institute of Medicine in its 2011 report, Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations, says dental disease is universally prevalent, but a number of subpopulations are particularly vulnerable, including seniors, children and adolescents, low-income people, minority groups and people with special health care needs.

Dental disease has broad health impacts. Poor oral health is linked with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, poor nutrition, decreased academic performance and, for children and parents, loss of time at school and work, as well as pain and suffering. Fluoridation is an important part of the solution to the oral health challenge we are facing. Community water fluoridation is the most cost effective and equitable preventive measure for reducing the prevalence of dental decay in children and adults. It costs approximately $1 per person per year. For every $1 spent, approximately $38 are saved in dental treatment costs.

e_STnSLocally, the Vermont Department of Health supports water fluoridation because:

∎  Based on 60 years of research studies, fluoridation at the optimal level poses no adverse health risks.

∎ Research and practical experience indicate that fluoridation has played an important role in the reduction of tooth decay (20 percent to 40 percent in children) and tooth loss in adults (20 percent to 40 percent).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized community water fluoridation as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.

We urge the Bradford Water Commission to return fluoridation to the water supply.

Toni LaMonica


Upper Valley Oral Health Coalition