Opinion: Should NJ Mandate Fluoride in Your Water?
Not all of Holmdel, nor New Jersey, gets fluoridated water year-round. Would you be willing to pay more for it?
As a resident of Holmdel for more than 20 years, and having a dental practice in Lincroft, I was satisfied to know that the tap water in my family and patients' homes was optimally fluoridated because we are served by the New Jersey American Water company. Their fluoride level is maintained at 0.7 parts per million.
This week I learned not all of Holmdel has year-round fluoridation in their tap water. The northern section of Holmdel, starting at Crawfords Corner Road, is served by Shorelands Water Company headquartered in Hazlet. It provides the township New Jersey American Water fluoridated water from mid-October through April, according to CEO Eric Olsen. The rest of the year Shorelands provides water from its own treatment plants, which is not fluoridated.
American cities and water companies have been adding fluoride to drinking water since the early 1960s, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called fluoridation of drinking water “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
This, even though, on average, residents ingest only one percent of the water they use in a day, according to New Jersey American Water spokesman Peter Eschbach.
Despite the touted dental benefits, New Jersey utilities have largely resisted fluoridating their water supplies. The Garden State ranks as the second least-fluoridated state in the nation, with only about 13 percent of its population served by water systems with fluoridated water, according to the CDC. Only Hawaii ranks lower, with 10.8 percent.
Even though my children get fluoridated water from the home faucet (filtered) and school drinking fountain (unfiltered) I gave them fluoride supplements every day until age 12.
I assumed they were getting some fluoride from water, so I gave them half of the recommended supplemental dose. Fluoride supplements are available by prescription; just ask your pediatrician or dentist (Flintstone’s vitamins do not have fluoride). All three of my children have escaped from dental decay and it’s not because their father is a dentist, it’s because their parents are informed.
In my dental practice I still see children with dental decay. Maybe they are drinking only bottled water or much worse, high sugar and acidic drinks. Many of them live in poor socio-economic circumstances. Others have parents that don’t even consider dental health until their child can’t sleep due to mouth pain. Some never look in their child’s mouth for obvious problems (clue: teeth should not have dark spots or holes in them).
A bill is currently under consideration in the New Jersey Legislature to mandate the addition of fluoride to the public water supply. Lawmakers describe the measure as an important step to promote dental health. A Senate committee approved S-959 last week, while an Assembly committee passed A-3709 on January 30.
The question is, would you accept a 5% increase in your water bill to fund this proposal statewide?
Comments are welcome.
Mitchel L. Friedman, DDS