Our View

We say yes to fluoridation

By From page A14 | September 29, 2013

The issue: This addition to our water supply would benefit us all

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

It’s time for Davis residents to reap the benefits of fluoride in their water supply.

THERE HAS BEEN considerable debate this summer and early fall about whether fluoride is safe, effective and worth the cost of adding it to Davis’ well water and the water that will flow from the new Woodland-Davis Surface Water Project. We believe it is.

There’s also been debate about whether Davis needs fluoride, with some opponents downplaying the rate of dental decay among local preschoolers or scoffing at the notion that Davis parents aren’t doing enough to ensure their kids’ health.

Tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic disease among children, says the chairwoman of the Yolo County Health Council’s subcommittee on fluoridation. It causes pain, problems with nutrition, speech issues, lack of concentration, low self-esteem and time away from school.

And despite parents’ best efforts, Davis dentists say as many as 25 percent of local preschoolers have untreated cavities. Even with all the advancements in dental hygiene and standards of living over the recent decades, our kids still need help.

WHILE MOST OF the attention is focused on fluoride’s benefit for children, don’t forget that we ALL benefit. Fluoride enhances the body’s ability to rebuild tooth enamel when acid-producing bacteria cause it to decay. This new enamel is actually harder and more decay-resistant than the original tooth surface. Fluoride makes it harder for plaque to stick to your teeth. It also makes it more difficult for bacteria to turn sugar into acid.

Is the proposal going before the Davis City Council on Tuesday affordable? According to initial estimates, fluoridation could cost as much as $2 million in initial capital outlay. After that, the ongoing cost would be less than $2 per month per household.

With bids on the joint water project required to come in 20 percent below the engineers’ estimate — upon which Davis’ water rates were based — rates most likely will not have to be increased further to pay for fluoridation. In addition, state and federal grants, along with low-cost financing, are expected to further reduce the cost of the water plant project.

We believe the cost of fluoridation even at the maximum level is easily absorbed.

LASTLY, FLUORIDATION is worth the cost. The American Dental Association estimates that for every dollar invested in water fluoridation, $38 is saved in dental treatment, missed work and other costs. Or put another way, a lifetime of cavity prevention can be obtained for less than the cost of one detail filling.

We urge the Davis City Council to say yes to fluoridating our community water supply.

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