Molly Pereira is the associate executive director of operations for the Colorado Dental Association and is a proponent of adding fluoride to community water systems to benefit the oral hygiene of low-income families.
She stressed that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is present in all water sources, including in Durango lakes and rivers. She said “Community Water Fluoridation” is the process of adjusting that natural level to the optimal level to prevent tooth decay.
That’s why she wants Durango residents to vote against an ordinance that would eliminate fluoride from the city’s water. The ballot issue, Question 1A in the April 4 city election, seeks to discontinue fluoridation. A vote “for the ordinance” would discontinue fluoridation, while a vote “against the ordinance” would allow fluoridation to continue.
She said that for more than 70 years, the best available scientific, peer-reviewed evidence indicates benefits of community water fluoridation, and that 75 percent of the U.S. population is served by public water systems that add fluoride for its health benefits.
Pereira said the amount of fluoride at state health levels is 0.4 parts per million and by adjusting that to 0.7 ppm for dental health is not significant.
“Durango is just fortunate to have this cavity-saving measure already in its water supply,” she said.
She said water fluoridation is endorsed by more than 100 health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, American Dental Association, American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Community water fluoridation protects all families and individuals regardless of their socioeconomic position – and more importantly it protects the smallest members of the community, allowing this generation to have their teeth and smiles for a lifetime,” Pereira said.
She said residents who want to know more about fluoridation in water systems should visit www.cofluoridefacts.org for more facts and statistics.
According to the site, a 2005 study found that Colorado towns with fluoridated water saved $148.9 million in oral and other health care costs. The same study also estimated Colorado would save an additional $46.6 million if fluoridated water was enacted in another 50-plus water systems.
She said the American Dental Association’s website also is a good reference for fluoride information.
She said the CDC listed adding fluoride to drinking systems as one of the 10 great health achievements of the 20th Century. According to the CDC, every dollar spent on water fluoridation saves $43 in dental treatment caused by decay or infection.
Pereira dispelled the notion that fluoride is a drug that’s forced on residents.
“Fluoridation is not medication,” she said. “It is the adjustment of a naturally occurring element found in water in order to prevent dental decay. Courts have consistently ruled that water fluoridation is not a form of compulsory mass medication or socialized medicine.”
She said local officials are not required to have informed consent from anyone before adding chlorine, ammonia or any of the 40-plus additives normally applied to water supplies, fluoride included.
“There have been numerous court challenges through the decades, but no court of last resort has ever ruled in favor of the argument that the optimal level fluoride in drinking water is a drug,” she said.