Letter: In support of fluoride

Deborah Foote
Executive director, Oral Health Colorado

On behalf of Oral Health Colorado, a network of over 100 Colorado organizations interested in improving oral health for all Coloradans, I write to express our overwhelming support of community water fluoridation. Colorado is where researchers first discovered the benefits of fluoride in preventing cavities and we are proud of this legacy.

Snowmass has a history of supporting policies that create a balanced community representative of the various types of people who live, work and retire in the area. Delivering fluoride through drinking water is in line with these values and assures that all members of the community receive this important public health benefit regardless of income.

After seven decades of evidence, every major health organization agrees: Optimally fluoridated water protects teeth without posing risks to health. While almost all water contains naturally occurring fluoride, the community water systems adjust the level, usually by adding fluoride to achieve the right amount to reduce tooth decay.

Health organizations say this is one of the major reasons most people no longer need the dentures that were so common before widespread fluoridation, and studies have shown that it is why dental costs are lower and oral health problems have declined in fluoridated communities — outcomes that have an important impact on our overall health.

Misleading messages are often used to associate fluoride with fertilizer and industrial waste. The reality is that fluoride is extracted from phosphate rock, and so is phosphoric acid — an ingredient in Coke and Pepsi. Neither one of them comes from fertilizer.

Dental disease is the most common childhood disease and is associated with diabetes, adverse pregnancy outcomes, heart disease and lost school and work hours. Fluoridated water decreases tooth decay by nearly 25 percent in children and adults, and it saves communities money by reducing costs and lost work hours spent on repairing tooth decay. For most cities, every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in unnecessary dental treatment costs. Snowmass has been wise to use this proven intervention and we urge its continuation to benefit all its residents.

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