Public health support reaffirmed for community water fluoridation

During its April 20, 2016, meeting, the Sudbury & District Board of Health passed a motion reaffirming its long-standing support for community water fluoridation. The Board of Health also supported advocacy for provincial regulation that would make community water fluoridation mandatory for all municipal water systems in Ontario.

The Board of Health motion follows the April 11 decision of Nairn & Hyman Township Council to remove fluoride from the community’s water supply. With this decision comes an end to the oral health protection provided to Township residents since the early 1990’s.

“I am very concerned by the Nairn & Hyman Township Council’s decision to remove fluoride from its community water supply,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury & District Medical Officer of Health. “This is a significant step backwards for oral health for this community. Community water fluoridation makes sure that everyone benefits from the protection that fluoride provides against tooth decay—regardless of factors such as income, age, residence, or education,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

“We recognize that water fluoridation is the most cost-effective, equitable, safe, and internationally recognized method to prevent dental decay,” said René Lapierre, Chair, Sudbury & District Board of Health. “The current legislation means that such decisions are left to local municipalities. There really needs to be provincial legislation to ensure all Ontarians are protected,” said Lapierre.

Painful tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease in Canadian children and causes much avoidable suffering and stigma. Adding fluoride to the water provides the preventive effects of fluoride to individuals who may not be able to afford other types of fluoride, such as toothpaste and professional treatments.

“The evidence and experience elsewhere is clear that a decision to remove community water fluoridation in Nairn & Hyman or elsewhere would be expected to result in worse oral health among residents, especially children, seniors and those least able to afford dental care,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

More information about community water fluoridation is available on the Health Unit’s website www.sdhu.com.

Facts:

  • A recently introduced bill by a Member of Provincial Parliament supports community water fluoridation and calls for changes to the Fluoride Act and other relevant legislation to support mandatory fluoridation of municipal drinking water.
  • $1 invested in community water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment (Centre for Disease Control).
  • Community water fluoridation can reduce tooth decay by 20 to 40 per cent (American Dental Association).
  • Based on scientific research, fluoridated drinking water greatly reduces the number of cavities in children’s teeth, which contributes to their healthy development.
  • Fluoridation’s positive impact is supported by hundreds of studies and nearly 70 years of experience. Some of these studies have been conducted within the past few years.
  • Using toothpaste that contains fluoride is important, but it doesn’t give maximum protection against cavities. Drinking fluoridated water provides crucial added protection against tooth decay, and many studies prove it.
  • Cities that had previously removed fluoride, like Calgary, are already reconsidering their actions given the measurable increases in tooth decay.

This item was last modified on April 20, 2016