Community Water Fluoridation has Benefited Burlington Residents

LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF SEVEN DAYS

Date: May 23, 2005

Contact: Communication Office
863-7281

Ken Picard’s article entitled “Burlington Bites Into the Fluoride Question” (05.18.05) omitted a great deal of information regarding the benefits of community water fluoridation for Burlington residents.

Although it is not possible in this column to list the hundreds of studies proving the safety of water fluoridation, generally it is known that fluoridation poses no adverse health risks.

In Vermont, water fluoridation does contribute to the reduction of tooth decay by 20 to 40 percent. Besides reducing tooth decay, it prevents needless pain, suffering and loss of teeth and improves quality of life. Because older adults are now keeping their teeth longer, fluoridation is important for preventing tooth decay in this age group.

How does drinking fluoridated water help prevent tooth decay? Fluoride binds with tooth surfaces as teeth develop to provide protection from the bacteria that cause the infectious and transmissible disease known as tooth decay. Fluoride in saliva constantly washes over teeth to strengthen and protect tooth enamel from decay.

Economically speaking, fluoridation is very cost-effective and benefits individuals of all ages and socioeconomic groups. In Vermont, the cost of providing fluoridated water is a little over one dollar per person per year. For every dollar spent on fluoridation, as much as $70 is saved in dental bills.

The Vermont Department of Health endorses water fluoridation as a safe and effective way to improve the public’s dental health. As a preventive measure, it is the single most important commitment that a community can make to the oral health of its residents. Burlington’s residents can be thankful and proud that their water supply has been fortified with fluoride since 1952, and was the first town in Vermont to do so.

Donald Swartz, M.D.
Director of Health Improvement
Vermont Department of Health