In all the years that Science Cafe New Hampshire has put on events, some dealing with controversial topics like climate change and vaccinations, only one time have we had to scold audience members for being obnoxious: When we talked about public water fluoridation. Some opponents go over the edge in their embrace of conspiracy theories and sometimes iffy medical science. Hint: If you hear a fluoridation opponent talk about “rat poison” you can safely stop listening.
With that in mind, here’s an announcement from the state celebration the practice:
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has announced that several New Hampshire cities and towns have been awarded a Water Fluoridation Quality Award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The City of Concord, the City of Dover Water Department, the UNH/Durham Water System, Laconia Water Works, the Lebanon Water Department, the Lancaster Water Department, and Manchester Water Works were all recognized for excellence in community water fluoridation. Fluoridation is the adjustment of the level of fluoride, a naturally occurring element, in drinking water to an amount that is effective for preventing tooth decay.
“Water fluoridation is effective in preventing cavities in children and adults and also highly cost-effective,” said Casey Hannan, MPH, Acting Director of the CDC Division of Oral Health. “Fluoridation is one of the best investments that communities can make in maintaining the oral health of their citizens. Studies continue to show that for every one dollar invested by communities in water fluoridation, 20 dollars are saved in dental treatment costs.”
New Hampshire ranks 44 in the country for the fluoridation of public water systems, with less than half of residents (47%) served by a public water system receiving fluoridated water. Many New Hampshire residents receive water from private wells, which may or may not have naturally occurring fluoride. In all, the CDC is giving Water Fluoridation Quality Awards to 1,360 water systems across 29 states.
Community water fluoridation has been recognized by CDC as one of ten great public health achievements of the twentieth century. It is one of the most practical, cost-effective, equitable, and safe measures communities can take to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health, according to the CDC.
“We fully support community water fluoridation as a strategy to improve the public’s oral health, which is an important part of a person’s overall health”, said Lisa Morris, Director of DPHS. “I commend the high quality work of these water departments. New Hampshire residents of all ages who get their water from these municipal systems are able to enjoy the protective benefits provided by fluoridation.”