Letter: A disservice to public health
As a Snowmass Village resident and dentist in Aspen for the past 23 years, I was disappointed to see the Snowmass Water Board end the use of fluoride in the drinking water of the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District. Since the day I moved to Snowmass Village in 1992, I have felt that we have some of the best drinking water around. I also have been comforted by the fact that our water was fluoridated not only for my children’s but for my patients, as well. For many years now, I and my other fellow dentists in Snowmass Village and Aspen have seen firsthand the dramatic difference in the degree and amount of cavities we treat in patients from unflouridated communities. We alternatively have been comforted that local populations in Aspen and Snowmass fare much better when it comes to lower cavity rates. Put simply, no fluoride in the water equals more cavities earlier in life. More cavities earlier in life equal more ongoing tooth problems and more tooth loss in mid- to later lifetime. Fluoridated water is the most cost-effective and practical solution I am aware of. After many years, I have found that even the most motivated of parents living in unfluoridated areas are challenged to keep their kids on a consistent routine of fluoride supplements day in and day out. After a few years, the routine fades away, and then the cavities start to appear. Today it should be every person’s expectation to keep their teeth for their entire life. Prior to the use of fluoride, that expectation was the exception. Decay was at epidemic levels and was considered one of the great national public-health concerns of that time. Today the teeth of the people of the United States are the envy of the world because of their wholesome, healthy appearance. Fluoride works!
In the past few months, much has been said about the supposed negative effects of fluoride in our drinking water. Fluoridation has been studied on an ongoing basis ever since its implementation in the United States. To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and research universities throughout the United States have all without exception supported the use of water fluoridation for its role in reducing tooth decay. No statistically significant health issues have been found. Excessive tooth decay can, on the other hand, generate a wide variety of truly significant health issues: infections, periodontal bone disease, heart disease and malnutrition, among others. The CDC has gone as far as to recognize the fluoridation of water as one of the great public-health measures of the 20th century. Water fluoridation is endorsed by the American Medical Association, the surgeon general, the American Federation of Family Physicians and the World Health Organization, to name a few.
For the many of us who have received the lifelong benefit of fluoridation, it does not seem fair nor right to deny that benefit to upcoming generations. Future generations of dentists will be the only beneficiaries of the present no-fluoride action. Please urge the Snowmass Water Board to change its decision and put fluoride back into the water. Please return your Snowmass water survey in favor of fluoride.