Advocates urge State College Borough Water Authority to keep


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The State College Borough Water Authority is weighing whether to continue adding fluoride to the water.

The State College Borough Water Authority is weighing whether to continue adding fluoride to the water.

Centre Daily Times, file

The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (PAAAP) are in full agreement that State College Borough Water Authority should retain optimally fluoridated water (community water fluoridation or CWF). Oral health is essential to general health and well-being. Our position on CWF follows the recommendations of the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dental cavities are an infectious and transmissible disease that affects both adults and children. It is a preventable disease. Cavities are the most common chronic disease of children, many times more common than asthma, obesity and diabetes.

The good news is that there is an easy way to prevent a large proportion of cavities. That preventive wonder is called CWF. And the really great news is that residents of State College have had it for the past 66 years.

Unfortunately, the State College Borough Water Authority is considering stopping it. Why? SCBWA’s rationale isn’t based on the scientifically-proven benefits and safety of CWF. It is because SCBWA’s ad hoc committee on CWF recommended this by a vote of 2-1 at their May 19 meeting. This decision on an important public health measure was made by non-public health professionals, based on their interpretation of the science. State College’s doctors or dentists were not a part of that ad hoc committee’s presentation. Had they been consulted in this decision, scientific evidence would have been clearly defined and the decision would have been unanimous to continue to support this public health benefit for everyone in State College and surrounding communities.

CWF is the precise adjustment of the naturally occurring mineral, fluoride, that is already in your water, to the optimal level that prevents cavities, 0.7 milligrams/liter of water. That amount is analogous to one drop of fluoride additive in its concentrated form diluted by 250,000 drops of water; one inch in 23 miles; one minute in 1,000 days; one cent in $14,000. It is a minuscule adjustment of the natural amount of fluoride already in your water.

CWF reduces cavities by 25% that adults and children experience in their lifetimes.

People living in poverty have twice the number of cavities than those not living in poverty, and are often at a disadvantage when accessing dental services.

On average, 34 million school hours are lost each year because of emergency dental care, and over $45 billion in U.S. productivity is lost each year due to untreated dental disease. The U.S. Community Preventive Services Task Force strongly recommends CWF as it prevents cavities and saves money.

CWF is an equal and effective way to deliver fluoride to all community members regardless of age, education or income. It also saves money for families and the U.S. health care system. It is an equitable way to level the playing field.

Communities that spend a nominal amount of money to fluoridate their water end up not only promoting the health and well-being of the whole community, but save everyone money in health care costs. According to the SCBWA ad hoc committee’s own calculations, CWF costs around 70 cents per year per person. For just pennies per year, CWF reduces expenditures on preventable cavity repairs of $32/person/year. In the State College Borough, that amounts to an annual savings of over $1.2 million dollars per year, not to mention the savings to residents of avoidable tooth pain, fillings, root canals, and removal of teeth.

For the general and oral health, along with the well-being of your community, we ask that you join the SCBWA meeting by Zoom this Thursday, July 21 at 4 p.m. to voice your support to continue CWF. Also, please watch a presentation by the nonprofit American Fluoridation Society, which addresses the ad hoc committee’s presentation with the scientific explanations of why the ad hoc committee’s presentation was based in an outdated or misunderstanding of the current science on CWF. Your voice can make a difference!

Mary Ann Rigas, MD, FAAP, is president of the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Nancy R. Rosenthal, DDS, is president of the Pennsylvania Dental Association.