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Lawmaker Lobbies For Hawaii’s Water Fluoridation

A Hawaii lawmaker pushes for the fluoridation of the state’s water systems to promote better oral health for the people.

Democratic state senator Karl Rhoads has sponsored legislation that will require major public water suppliers in Hawaii to fluoridate the state’s drinking water as a response to the weakening dental health of the children.

In his interview with KITV-TV, the senator lamented the increasing number of children who suffer from dental issues such as tooth decay. He also pointed the low rank of Hawaii in terms of children’s dental health.

Hawaii records the highest tooth decay prevalence in the United States. It also received an F rating from The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2011, making it the worst performing state in the country.

Rhoads lobbies that the fluoridation of the state’s drinking water will reduce cavities. “Fluoridation is a system that is used all over the country and the world that reduces cavities if you drink water that is fluoridated,” he said.

In Hawaii, cavities plague 71 percent of third graders, higher by 19 percent compared to the national average. Moreover, 22 percent of third-graders do not get the needed oral care and suffer from untreated dental caries. In fact, seven percent of these children need urgent dental care due to infection and pain.

Fluoridating the water system will be safe and cost-effective to address the issue, according to Rhoads. “In a big system like Honolulu’s, you can save up to 32 USD in reduced dental costs for every dollar you spend fluoridating,” he added.

Fluoridating Hawaii’s Community Waters

Health agencies including the American Dental Association, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization endorse the use of fluoride to protect the teeth and combat tooth decay. The naturally-occurring compound aids in the remineralization of the enamel. It strengthens it against wear caused by acid attacks and daily exposure to food and drink.

Despite the benefits of fluoridated water, Hawaii resisted against the system. It is the state with the lowest percentage of fluoridated community water at only 11 percent. Aside from the military properties, no single county fluoridates its drinking water. Therefore, less than 160,000 residents, out of 1.4 million people, receive fluoridated water.

The legislation, if passed, will require the Hawaii Department of Health will to reimburse water suppliers for the initial expenses incurred. It will also offer them technical training and assistance. The state’s health department will also submit a report to the state legislature on the implementation of the water fluoridation system.

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