Written by Gary T. Chiodo, D.M.D., F.A.C.D.
Community water fluoridation has been named by the Centers for Disease Control as one of the top 10 public health measures of all time. Now, Portland has the opportunity to join with other major cities and provide fluoridated water to its residents.
Currently, 74 percent of Americans are connected to fluoridated water systems and, with the advent of fluoridation in Portland, that percentage will increase. With 65 years of fluoridation history and more than 3,000 published studies supporting this primary prevention measure, the safety and efficacy of community water fluoridation is clear. Some persuasive facts about fluoridation include:
- For every dollar spent on fluoridation, $38 are saved in dental care.
- 35 percent of Oregon kids have untreated tooth decay.
- A decayed tooth restored in childhood will cost about $2000 to preserve over the lifetime of the child.
- On average, community water fluoridation reduces dental caries (also know as tooth decay or cavities) rate by 25 percent. The reduction is much greater in areas where access to dental care is decreased due to economics or other factors.
- There have been 20 studies that demonstrated a substantial decrease in adult caries rates in fluoridated communities.
The time is here for Portland to implement this important public health approach.
Dr. Chiodo is the Interim Dean of the School of Dentistry at Oregon Health & Science University. Dr. Chiodo is also a professor of Community Dentistry, and Senior Scholar in the Center for Ethics in Health Care. During the first 21 years of his career, he practiced at the Russell St. Dental Clinic, a 14 operatory, public health dental clinic in Portland, Oregon that treats the majority of identified HIV-positive persons in Oregon and southwest Washington.
Dr. Chiodo received his Certificate in Health Care Ethics from the University of Washington School of Medicine in 1992. He has served on several state and national committees related to public health, ethics, and infectious diseases; has lectured internationally on these issues; and has published over 100 peer reviewed articles related to these topics. In 2002, he was elected to fellowship in the American College of Dentists.
Dr. Chiodo is currently on the editorial board of “Medical Research Law & Policy.”