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Fluoridation championed in U.S. communities; ADA recognized for fluoridation campaign

October 10, 2016

By Michelle Manchir

Five years after voting to fluoridate its water supply, the Santa Clara Valley Water district has the system and the money in place to take action.

The  district, which supplies water to a number of communities including San Jose, in December “will join a majority of the country’s public water suppliers in adjusting the fluoride level of drinking water in order to prevent tooth decay,” the district announced in September.

The water district voted in November 2011 to fluoridate its water supply. With the system and funding now in place, eastern Santa Clara County will begin receiving fluoridated water in December, and west Santa Clara County in 2020. 

“For a large and complex community like San Jose, which had only a small part of its community served by fluoridated water, it took many years by a group of dedicated individuals to plan, develop a strategy, build advocacy groups and ultimately urge policymaking by the legal entity responsible for the water system,” said Dr. Howard Pollick, who served as vice-chair in 2005 of the California Fluoridation Task Force and made public presentations to the Santa Clara Valley Water District regarding the benefits of fluoridation.

With the fluoridation of San Jose, 45 of the 50 largest U.S. cities will enjoy the benefit of optimally fluoridated water, according to an email in October from the ADA to state and executives and officials. The five remaining cities in order of size are Portland, Albuquerque, Tucson, Fresno and Wichita. 

 “Water fluoridation is very important for reducing the burden of tooth decay for children and adults, particularly for the poor and underserved members of communities who experience more cavities and pain from what has been shown to be the most common chronic disease,” said Dr. Pollick, who is the chair of the Fluoridation Advisory Committee of the California Dental Association Foundation and also a health sciences clinical professor at the department of preventive and restorative dental sciences at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry.

Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

For the second year in a row, voters at a town meeting in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, rejected an article that would have ceased the town’s practice of fluoridating its drinking water, according to a news report from the local Telegram & Gazette newspaper.

The town of an estimated 36,000 has had fluoridated water for about 63 years, according to the news report.

Wilkesboro, North Carolina

The city council here voted unanimously Oct. 3 to restart fluoridation.

According to a news report in the local Journal Patriot, the vote came after council members learned in September that fluoridation had been discontinued in June 2015. The town mayor indicated that while the medical and dental professionals presented him with results of research and scientific data to support fluoridation, according to the news stories, those opposed were not able to support their opinions with significant data or scientific evidence. Wilkesboro had been fluoridated since the early 1960s, according to the Journal Patriot.

Clay City, Indiana

As reported by the Brazil Times, in planning for the future, the Clay City town council voted 3-0 in October to continue including fluoridation as part of the water treatment process. Clay City had halted fluoridation while repairs were being completed to the town’s water treatment system. Final repairs are expected to be completed next year.

ADA recognized for fluoridation initiative

The ADA has been recognized with a Power of A Gold Award from the American Society of Associations, which recognizes how well an association advances industry/profession performance, solves problems, kickstarts innovation or improves world conditions.

The ADA was recognized for its Our Communities program, a proactive social media campaign to prompt the safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation.

To see some of the ADA’s efforts to educate the public on water fluoridation, visit MouthHealthy.org/fluoride or watch the video at ADA.org/fluoride.