MILWAUKEE (5/31/2012) - Public health advocates from Milwaukee today called on city leaders to reject a proposal to end the Milwaukee's highly successful community water fluoridation program. At a news conference held earlier today, advocates shared scientific evidence – more than 3,000 scientific studies – in addition to local, first-hand experiences, that show fluoride is a safe, economical and effective barrier for tooth decay in children and adults.
Experts from Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Oral Health Coalition stressed fluoridation is critical to the oral health of residents in Milwaukee and the 15 local communities that purchase water from the city.
"Evidence-based studies support the benefits of community water fluoridation," said Matt Crespin, RDH, MPH, oral health coordinator, Wisconsin Oral Health Coalition, and associate director, Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin. "We urge the city to keep fluoride working for the people of Milwaukee and its surrounding communities.
"Community water fluoridation has been cited by the CDC as one of the top public health achievements of the 20th century," he said. "Studies show every dollar a community invests in public water fluoridation saves $38 in future dental costs down the road. Decades of research prove water fluoridation is the single most effective, economical way to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health among all age groups. It's an important preventive step that should continue in Milwaukee."
Others advocated continued use of fluoride at the news conference:
Earnestine Willis, MD, MPH, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin; Kellner Professor in Pediatrics, and director, Center for the Advancement of Underserved Children, the Medical College of Wisconsin: "For local children in underserved communities, prevention is the greatest concern as the proportion of children with untreated dental decay in the city of Milwaukee is disproportionately higher than the rest of the state. Decay rates would be astronomical if we discontinue water fluoridation in our community, particularly as it applies to those families who already have limited access to routine dental care throughout our municipalities."
Brian Hodgson, DDS, associate professor, Pediatric Dental Program, Marquette University School of Dentistry: "It has been alleged that fluoridated water is toxic because of fluorosis. The only cause for concern about dental fluorosis is from an aesthetics standpoint. Most dental fluorosis in the U.S. is quite mild, appearing as white spots on the tooth surface that in many cases only a dental professional would notice. The spots – if they occur at all – are merely spots. What is traumatic for a child is having an infection so deep and severe that he or she needs a root canal."
Michael Donohoo, DDS, Milwaukee general dentist and past president of both the Wisconsin Dental Association and the Greater Milwaukee Dental Association: "I love the fact that water fluoridation makes prevention of cavities so much easier for everyone. It's very accessible, even for the poorest families. Studies prove water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 25 percent – a conservative estimate – throughout one's lifetime, and drinking optimally fluoridated water during the tooth development stages reduces children's risk for cavities. Continued fluoridation of Milwaukee's water supply is the easiest and most economical way to help young and old with one simple oral health preventive measure."
The following organizations support appropriate fluoridation in Wisconsin's public water systems:
American Dental Association
Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin
Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin
Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Marquette University School of Dentistry
Milwaukee Health Care Partnership
Wisconsin Dental Association
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Wisconsin Oral Health Coalition
"The evidence is clear. We urge the Steering and Rules Committee, Milwaukee Common Council and everyone who cares about the health of our great community, to keep fluoride working in metro Milwaukee," Crespin said.
About Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin
Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin is the statewide voice for children's health to raise awareness, mobilize leaders, impact public health and implement programs proven to work. The Alliance leads and manages the Wisconsin Oral Health Coalition and is affiliated with Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Learn more at www.chawisconsin.org.