By Beth Stewart
Yes, and here’s why.
Oral health and general health are not separate. Dental care is the most prevalent unmet health need of children in the United States and dental caries (the #1 childhood chronic disease causing tooth decay) is five times more common than asthma. Untreated dental decay can lead to malnourishment, bacterial infections, pain and even death.
In 2000, the Surgeon General described tooth decay as a silent epidemic. It only makes sense that communities do everything possible to protect their citizens from tooth decay, by utilizing proven evidence-based prevention strategies.
Dental disease is often misunderstood as a problem that affects individuals due to their own irresponsibility or ignorance, when in reality it is a complex health issue tied to education, access, insurance coverage and many more confounding factors. Self-sufficiency and personal responsibility are important concepts regarding dental disease impact on overall health, but we urge Buda residents to consider utilizing community water fluoridation so that every resident has access to effective, low cost cavity prevention.
Community water fluoridation and brushing with fluoride toothpaste complement each other, like seat belts and air bags in automobiles. Both work individually, but together they provide even better protection. Many years after fluoride toothpaste became widely used, an independent panel of experts examined the specific impact of water fluoridation and determined that fluoridation reduces tooth decay by about 29%. At a time when more than 100 million Americans lack dental insurance, community water fluoridation has been demonstrated to be safe, cost-effective and beneficial through every stage of life and for all people, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
With Buda’s current population of 10,680, per the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the cost of fluoridation is $0.14 per year per person, making a lifetime of cavity prevention less than $12. The Texas Department of State Health Services Fluoridation Program estimates the cost of fluoride additive at $1,471/year to the city, based on Buda’s average production rate and current average fluorosilicic acid price at $2.00/gallon.
Fluorosilicic acid (FSA) also known as Hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFA/HFSA) is a water-soluble fluoride additive that is simple to use when fed into the water system. Because it is in liquid form and not granular or powder, this fluoride additive can be added without dust or measuring problems and with a minimum of equipment and labor. Today, most cities that have fluoridated water systems use FSA. FSA dissolves quickly to add fluoride ions to water at the water plant and is not present in the water at the tap.
For additional information on fluoridation’s efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness, we encourage you to visit http://www.fluoridefortexas.txohc.org/Fluoride_Community.html.
The Texas Oral Health Coalition supports Proposition A to resume the use of fluoride additives within the allowable level as recommended and regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the City of Buda municipal potable water supply.
Beth Stewart is the executive directory of Texas Oral Health Coalition, Inc.