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Issue Home February 18, 2003 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Unwilliing To Do The Same

On the evening of January 19 while I was out walking around the lake your dog followed me home. It was bitterly cold and we could not bear the thought of this beautiful animal having to spend the night enduring the snow, wind, and sub-zero temperature, so we let her stay in our home. We thought that you would come to find her. Surely you would miss her, be worried about her, wonder if she was all right. A week passed, then two, with no indication that you were looking for her, no sign that you were the least bit concerned with her welfare. It hadn't taken long for us to fall in love with her, and we tried to figure out why you didn't care about her–how could you NOT adore this lovely dog? Why weren't you out looking for her the first week–no, the first HOUR–that she was gone? She was a joy to be around, never barked, and wouldn't have dreamed of jumping up on us. She was a near-perfect house guest, her only flaws being an uncontrollable urge to chase cats and an addiction to squirrels.

Despite her wonderful demeanor it was obvious that she could not live with us permanently, so when the third week neared its end we took her to the animal shelter. It was one of the most painful things we've ever had to do, and we will miss her more than words can convey. Though she was only with us a short time we had come to love her... what a pity that you were unwilling to do the same.


Margaret Williams

Brackney, PA

Nature’s Cavity Fighter

I started writing today as the president of the Pennsylvania Dental Association to refute the unfounded, anti-fluoride claims made by Lauretta Clowes Smith in the January 29, 2003, edition of your publication. But then I got to thinking.

Fluoride prevents tooth decay. Less tooth decay means fewer cavities. Fewer cavities mean less work for dentists. Less work for dentists means less money in their pockets. So, wouldn’t I be crazy to publicly refute something that promotes dental health, thereby decreasing my income? Perhaps, but then I decided to do it, because it’s the right thing to do.

Fluoridation of public water is considered one of the most significant public health advances of the 20th Century and one of the safest, most cost-effective ways to increase overall oral health. Since its introduction more than 50 years ago, fluoridation has dramatically improved the dental health of tens of millions of Americans.

Consider the following:

Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter. Small amounts of fluoride are present naturally in all water sources, and in all foods and beverages in varying amounts. Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the natural level of fluoride to the optimal concentration (0.7-1.2 parts per million) for protection against tooth decay and promoting the "remineralization" or rebuilding of tooth enamel.

More than 90 national and international organizations recognize the public health benefit of fluoridation of community water supplies, including the Canadian and American Dental Associations, the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization.

In April, 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed community water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. The list of achievements that also included vaccinations and control of infectious diseases was developed to highlight the contributions of public health and to describe the impact of these contributions on the health and well being of persons in the United States. Today, fluoridation reaches an estimated 144 million persons in the United States.

Fluoridation safely and inexpensively benefits both children and adults by effectively preventing tooth decay, regardless of socioeconomic status or access to care.

Research conducted over the past 50 years has repeatedly confirmed the safety of water fluoridation at optimal levels (0.7-1.2 parts per million) and its effectiveness in preventing dental decay.

Thanks to fluoridation, fully half of children now entering first grade never have experienced tooth decay, compared to 37 percent in 1980 and 28 percent in the early 1970s.

A combination of drinking fluoridated water and proper use of fluoride products (including using toothpaste and rinses with the ADA Seal of Acceptance) is safe and helps achieve optimal oral health.

In addition, the American Dental Association encourages and carefully reviews research on the safety and efficacy of fluoride. For example:

Two studies published in 1993, in the Journal of the American Public Health Association, concluded that a risk of hip fracture could not be linked to fluoridated public water supplies.

A recent United States National Academy of Sciences study concluded "the weight of the evidence from more than 50 epidemiological studies does not support the hypothesis of an association between fluoride exposure and increased cancer risk in humans."

The bottom line is that fluoridation of community water supplies is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay for a lifetime. That is why organizations such as the American Dental Association and the Pennsylvania Dental Association strongly support the national health objective to increase the percentage of the population served by fluoridated community water systems to 75 percent of Americans by the year 2010.


Michael D. Cerveris, DMD

President, PA Dental Association

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Letters To The Editor MUST BE SIGNED. They MUST INCLUDE a phone number for "daytime" contact. Letters MUST BE CONFIRMED VERBALLY with the author, before printing. At that time you may request to withhold your name. Letters should be as concise as possible, to keep both ReaderÔs and Editor's interest alike. Your opinions are important to us, but you must follow these guidelines to help assure their publishing.

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