Editorial: Easy way to prevent decay

York Dispatch

A recent change in federal guidelines regarding the recommended amount of fluoride that should be added to drinking water calls for a reduction — not elimination.

The change in guidelines came after a federal panel proposed changing the recommended level for community water systems to 0.7 milligrams per liter, which is the low end of the prior recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter.

It's a moot point for York Water Co., which doesn't add fluoride to the majority of its water supply. It will affect West Manheim Township, however, which receives fluoridation.

We believe, and have advocated on this page for years, that children should receive the recommended amount of fluoride in public drinking water in order to combat tooth decay.

Parents and pediatricians can also provide fluoride supplements, but not all children have access to such health care, particularly children in low-income families.

For some families, it's difficult to ensure the recommended childhood vaccinations and well-child visits, let alone paying for extra fluoride supplements.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend children receive fluoride in their water. The new guidelines to slightly reduce fluoride in drinking water address dental fluorosis, a condition that causes "primarily cosmetic changes in the appearance of tooth enamel," according to the CDC.

The CDC notes that an independent panel has found no other unwanted health effects resulting from fluoridation. And fluoridated drinking water can reduce tooth decay in children by 60 percent.

Local dentist Dr. Paul Kruth concurs. He says fluoride in the water would mean he would treat fewer patients with tooth decay than he currently sees.

While a number of factors contribute to tooth decay in children, the addition of fluoride to drinking water could help combat major health issues later, such as gum disease.

We agree with dental health professionals and the Center for Disease Control.

The proper amount of fluoride in the drinking water today will prevent painful and costly consequences down the road.