Letter to the Editor: State’s top health officer favors water fluoridation

Dear Editor:
More than 65 years of research has shown community water fluoridation to be safe and effective in reducing cavities and maintaining good dental and overall health. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommends every community maintain adequate levels of fluoride in its water supply to protect the oral health of its citizens.

People who drink fluoridated water have 25 percent to 40 percent fewer cavities. And despite the widespread availability of fluoride tooth paste, mouth wash and other consumer products, fluoride from water provides at least 25 percent of each person’s reduction in cavities — meaning fewer dental visits, better health and money saved.
While state law does not mandate fluoridation, more than 50 Colorado community water systems have invested in this safe, low-cost and effective health benefit. Fluoridating a community’s water supply costs about $1 to $2 per resident per year and saves more than $60 per person per year in dental bills. The per-person cost of a lifetime of community water fluoridation is less than that of one dental filling.
Dental disease is nearly 100 percent preventable. But with so many Colorado kids, adults and seniors without dental benefits, community water fluoridation can help save many of them the pain and expense of dental treatments.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named community water fluoridation one of the top 10 public health interventions of the past century! Most major health organizations, including the American Dental Association, the American Water Works Association and the World Health Organization, support community water fluoridation because it reduces cavities and does no harm.
The optimal level of fluoride for protection against dental disease is 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. Some communities already have enough fluoride in their water from natural sources. For those that do not, the state health department provides training for local water engineers, support for local water systems and fluoridation equipment grants for those communities without the necessary resources.
A healthy mouth is more than just a nice smile. Good oral health helps prevent painful and costly dental treatments and control chronic disease. We believe community water fluoridation plays an important role in keeping our teeth — and our communities — healthier and happier.
Dr. Larry Wolk
Executive Director /Chief Medical Officer
Colorado Department of Public Health
and Environment
Denver