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Association thanks surgeon general for fluoridation support

December 22, 2015

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — ADA President Carol Gomez Summerhays and ADA Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin thanked U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., Dec. 22, for his role in commemorating the 70th anniversary of community water fluoridation.

In a video posted to the Office of the Surgeon General’s YouTube channel, Dr. Murthy credited community water fluoridation with contributing to dramatic declines in the prevalence and severity of tooth decay, and praised advocates and community leaders for their efforts in fighting to make water fluoridation a reality in communities across the county.

“Our progress on this issue over the past 70 years has been undeniable,” said Dr. Murthy in the video. “But we still have work to do. Because we know that so much of our health is determined by zip code rather than genetic code. That’s why creating a culture of disease prevention through community efforts — and ensuring health equity for all — is one of my highest priorities. Community water fluoridation helps us meet these goals; as it is one of the most cost-effective, equitable and safe measures communities can take to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health.

In a letter to the Surgeon General, Drs. Summerhays and O’Loughlin thanked him for his efforts and support, saying, “We applaud you for commemorating the 70th anniversary of community water fluoridation with a statement acknowledging the practice as a safe, beneficial, and cost-effective public health measure for preventing tooth decay.”
On Jan. 25, 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became a pioneer in public health when it became the first city in the world to fluoridate its drinking water. Today, nearly 75 percent of the U.S. population served by public water utilities — more than 210 million people — receives the benefits of optimally fluoridated water. Studies show that community water fluoridation prevents at least 25 percent of tooth decay in children and adults, even with the widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste.  

“Each generation born over the past 70 years has enjoyed better dental health than the one before it. That’s the very essence of the American promise,” said Dr. Murthy.
The Association has participated in several notable events this year to mark the anniversary milestone, including collaborating with the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Public Health Dentistry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors for the 70th Anniversary Fluoridation Celebration and Symposium held Sept. 11-12 in Chicago.

Also in September, Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) introduced H.R. 416, a resolution that recognizes community water fluoridation as a public health initiative.