Any parent shudders at the thought of his or her child being taken to the operating room. The strange environment and separation is frightening to children, and parents worry about the risks of anesthesia and surgery. The pain of recovery and the time lost from work and school only add to the anxiety.
Yet here in Rifle, children are being exposed to these risks too often. In the last five years, children have gone to the Grand River Health operating room for many different reasons. Ear tubes, broken bones and tonsillectomies are among the most common, but repair of cavities outnumbered them all. In fact, the youngest kids in Rifle are going to the operating room to have their cavities repaired more than all other reasons combined.
In addition to the pain and suffering associated with costly repairs, kids who have had multiple cavities are at risk for lifelong health problems including infections, heart disease and even delivering a baby prematurely. Healthy teeth are important to all aspects of a healthy body. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste and visiting the dentist regularly help combat decay, but they are only part of the solution.
The city of Rifle has an opportunity to reduce tooth decay by 30 to 50 percent by taking a simple step and adding fluoride to the water. Ten years ago, the city stopped fluoridating. Local doctors and dentists want to see fluoride return. In fact, every single dentist and primary care physician who practices in Rifle supports fluoridation.
All water has fluoride naturally, but the level varies. Rifle already has some fluoride, but it’s not enough to reduce tooth decay. For the past 80 years, communities without enough fluoride have been safely adding to what is naturally there for maximum dental health. The number of communities choosing to add fluoride continues to grow. Currently more than 75 percent of all Americans have fluoridated water.
There are those who don’t support fluoridation, but they’re up against an overwhelming scientific consensus. More than 3,000 medical and dental studies have proven the safety of fluoride and its effectiveness in preventing cavities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Surgeon General all strongly support fluoridation. Learn the facts and help your community make the right decision.
Dr. Colby Quintenz is a pediatrician at Grand River Health in Rifle.
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