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ADA president urges support for Action for Dental Health bill

September 20, 2017

By Michelle Manchir

ADA President Gary L. Roberts urged members of Congress to support the Action for Dental Health Act of 2017 in a Sept. 18 letter that highlights the importance a single component of the bill: community water fluoridation.

Calling water fluoridation “one of the key prevention initiatives” in the American Dental Association’s Action for Dental Health campaign, Dr. Roberts wrote, “The ADA urges you not to let fluoridation skeptics jeopardize the progress the country has made in preventing tooth decay, especially among children. Before fluoridation, the typical schoolchild developed three to four new cavities each year. In some communities, people considered the loss all of one’s teeth before old age as normal. Today, many people simply do not have that type of decay burden—thanks in large part to the role fluoridation plays in preventing decay.”

The Action for Dental Health Act of 2017, or H.R. 2422, was introduced by Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and calls for Congress to authorize additional oral health promotion and disease prevention programs. In July, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously gave it the green light. The bill will next go before the full House of Representatives.

The bill would “authorize additional funds for the Department of Health and Human Services to support volunteer oral health promotion and disease prevention programs, including community water fluoridation initiatives,” Dr. Roberts wrote in the letter, which was sent to members of Congress’ chiefs of staff and health legislative assistants.

Noting that water fluoridation was named one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Roberts wrote, “Please show your support for fluoridation as the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay, particularly in underserved communities, by ignoring the skeptics and supporting initiatives like those that would receive support from H.R. 2422.”