“No” is still Hawaii’s answer to recommendations of adding fluoride to its community water system as the alarming prevalence of tooth decay continues to plague its young population.
The oral health report sponsored by the State Health Department has shown 71 percent of tooth decay prevalence among children, higher by 19 percent compared to the national average of 52 percent and the highest among 50 states. The report screened 3,184 third graders in 67 public schools and found seven in every ten children are affected by tooth decay
According to the American Dental Association, through drinking fluoridated water, the incidence of tooth decay could have been reduced by 20 to 40 percent. Former president of Hawaii Dental Association Dr. Steve Wilhite even said that the prevalence of tooth decay could have been trimmed down to up to 50 percent in about ten years.
Still, Hawaii’s resolve to maintain the lack of fluoride in its water remains firm. It is so firm that the Honolulu City Council and Lanai Water Co. rejected the move to fluoridate the public water system.
Twelve years after, council member Ann Kobayashi who voted in favor of the measure to ban fluoridated water from the public water system has not changed her mind. “Many people like pure things — without chemicals,” she said.
Critics of fluoridation have continuously used the “chemical” card to convince people to join their cause. For them, the naturally-occurring compound is a chemical that has a history of killing houseplants and koi and causing severe ailments. However, all these claims are not backed by substantial evidence.
On the flip side, the American Dental Association has said drinking fluoridated water is cost-effective and safe. It is also extensively endorsed by health agencies like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fluoride gives the teeth added protection against acid attacks and plaque bacteria, preventing the wear of the enamel and strengthening it from demineralization.
“It has been validated by tens of millions of people since 1945 in Grand Rapids,” Dr. Maxine Feinberg, president of the Association said.
Water fluoridation has been practiced in the United States since Grand Rapids implemented it in 1945. At present, more than 74 percent of the country are receiving fluoridated water.
However, in Hawaii where tooth decay has staggering figures, only 11 percent or less than 160,000 people out of more than 1,419,000 residents enjoy the benefits of fluoridated water, making the state rank last regarding fluoridation percentage.
Kobayashi maintains that using fluoride should be choice. “We should not force people because we can always add it. Get fluoride drops and add it to your drinking water,” she said.
But not all can do that. Although fluoride treatments are available, they are often costly and unaffordable for people in low-income families who are more susceptible to dental problems than those of higher social status.
Fluoridated water can help combat tooth decay, prevent tooth loss and infection, and improve oral health without burning a hole in people’s pockets.
Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.