Portland is municipal fluoridation’s odd duck | Brunell

When it comes to drinking water, Portland is an odd duck. Since 1956, voters have consistently rejected adding minuscule amounts of fluoride to their water supply to prevent tooth decay. They again flocked to the polls in May to kill the latest ballot measure.

When it comes to drinking water, Portland is an odd duck. Since 1956, voters have consistently rejected adding minuscule amounts of fluoride to their water supply to prevent tooth decay. They again flocked to the polls in May to kill the latest ballot measure.

America is a fluoride nation. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Mich., became the first city in the world to add fluoride to its water supply. As of 2010, the nation’s 30 most populous cities include fluoride in their water supply.

More than 220 million Americans drink fluoridated water every day — except for the 900,000 Portlanders who draw their drinking water from the Bull Run River flowing from Mt. Hood.

In most areas, it is simply understood that a small amount of fluoride is good for your teeth. To date, there have been more than 3,700 studies demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation.

Oral health is still a significant concern for too many children and adults, especially in areas without fluoridated water. Dental disease is preventable and is a major reason why employees miss work, either because they or their kids require treatment.

Among the most cost-effective tools to protect oral health is community water fluoridation. Studies show that fluoridation reduces tooth decay rates by up to 40 percent and offers health benefits without requiring people to spend extra money or change their daily routine.

The annual average cost to fluoridate is less than $1 per person per year. This is an incredible bargain — especially given that the lifetime cost to take care of a single cavity is estimated to be more than $2,000. Talk about an ounce of prevention and a pound of cure!

Families, businesses and taxpayers save money when water fluoridation is part of the public health tool kit. Of course, individuals need to do their part, too, by practicing good oral hygiene. But communities must also contribute by providing fluoridated water, a proven low-cost measure to prevent dental disease.

The majority of communities in Washington and across the country have utilized water fluoridation as a safe, economical and cost-effective measure to improve oral health. Over the past several decades, there has been a slow, yet steady expansion of community water fluoridation in the United States, providing benefits to millions of additional children and adults.

Unfortunately, a few communities — including Portland — have resisted community water fluoridation, even though poor oral health leads to higher health care costs that are often passed on to everyone in a community.

The activists who try to persuade communities to stop fluoridating, or not even start, ignore more than 65 years of scientific evidence that clearly proves fluoridation is safe and benefits everyone. In fact, fluoridation is so beneficial that the Centers of Disease Control proclaimed water fluoridation one of the top 10 public health measures of the 20th century.

Fluoridation is a sound public health measure supported by nearly every trusted scientific and health organization including the National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dental Association and many other respected health and medical experts.

Communities such as San Diego, San Jose and others across the country have thoroughly examined the facts and have recently decided to provide fluoridated water to their residents. Since 1992, the number of Americans with access to fluoridated water has grown by 60 million.

The bottom line: Community water fluoridation keeps people healthy. That is good for business and the economy. It is also good for families and taxpayers — and it is the common sense thing to do.


More in Business

Railroads implementing positive track

While the investigation continues into the deadly AMTRAK derailment near Dupont, the clock continues to tick on the implementation of Positive Track Control (PTC). The deadline is Dec. 31, 2018.

Keep the holiday spirit all year long | Don Brunell

During the holidays, our thoughts naturally turn to giving — not just giving gifts, but donating our time and money to charities, disasters and community programs.

Finding balance in occupational licensing

Recently, the Institute for Justice (Institute) determined state licensing barriers for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs not only hurts people trying to establish themselves in a profession, but annually drives consumer prices up by $203 billion.

Remember 1993

Twenty-five years ago, business took a beating in Olympia. The swing to the left in the 1992 general election was swift and potent. It drove higher costs to employers and more government regulations.

Remembering Ed Carlson, Vietnam POW

Since last Veteran’s Day, Ken Burns’ in-depth documentary on the Vietnam War has aired. It is a powerful reminder of an unpopular war in which many “baby boomers” fought and died.

Rural prosperity essential to Washington

While Seattle is growing rapidly, our rural areas continue to struggle. They don’t have the corporate giants such as Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing creating jobs and economic opportunities. Farms are predominantly family-owned.

Amazon’s plan reminiscent Boeing’s Chicago move

Last year, Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates wrote about the similarities and differences between Boeing’s corporate office move to Chicago and Amazon’s plan for a second headquarters.

LiveLocal98022 meeting cancelled

Bob Green, the night’s speaker, notified the organization he couldn’t attend due to an illness.

Expanded Panama Canal among challenges for Washington Ports

The $5.4 billion spent to expand the Panama Canal is paying off for East Coast and Gulf of Mexico seaports; however, it is putting more pressure on the Northwest to remain competitive.

Players taking a knee hurting the NFL | Don Brunell

On a recent Saturday afternoon in Portland, a young woman stepped onto the playing field at the beginning of the University of Montana vs Portland State football game and started singing our national anthem. She immediately drew a blank on the words and briefly stopped, but as she started apologizing, the fans spontaneously took up the singing.

New metal collecting machine may clean up contaminated waters

There is a new machine being tested in Montana which could decontaminate toxic mine tailings while recovering valuable precious minerals for everyday use.

Workshop will focus on business, social media

All are invited to learn how social media can impact business and how it can be used to create a positive experience for customers.