Public Policy l Fluoridation Facts 87 Another former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, wrote: …this preventive measure (fluoridation) is the single most important commitment that a community can make to the oral health of its children and to future generations. I urge all health officials and concerned citizens to join me in supporting this commitment and in the task of achieving water fluoridation for all community drinking water supplies which lack the fluoride content needed for the prevention of dental caries.9 In 1999, because of the dramatic role it played in the reduction of tooth decay, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proclaimed community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.5,6 In May 2000, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher issued the first ever Surgeon General’s report on oral health titled, Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General.10 In 2001, Dr. Satcher issued a statement on fluoridation in which he noted: …community water fluoridation continues to be the most cost-effective, practical and safe means for reducing and controlling the occurrence of dental decay in a community…water fluoridation is a powerful strategy in efforts to eliminate health disparities among populations.11 In the 2003 National Call to Action to Promote Oral Health,12 U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona called on individuals and groups who are most concerned and in a position to act to apply strategies to enhance the adoption and maintenance of proven community-based interventions such as community water fluoridation.12 In his 2004 Statement on Community Water Fluoridation,13 Dr. Carmona wrote: While we can be pleased with what has already been accomplished, it is clear that there is much yet to be done. Policymakers, community leaders, private industry, health professionals, the media, and the public should affirm that oral health is essential to general health and well-being and take action to make ourselves, our families, and our communities healthier. I join previous Surgeons General in acknowledging the continuing public health role for community water fluoridation in enhancing the oral health of all Americans.13 In 2013, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin wrote:14 …As Surgeon General I have been working hard to encourage individuals and communities to make healthy choices because I believe it is better to prevent illness and disease rather than treat it after it occurs. Community water fluoridation is one of the most effective choices communities can make to prevent health problems while actually improving the oral health of their citizens... Fluoridation’s effectiveness in preventing tooth decay is not limited to children, but extends throughout life, resulting in fewer and less severe cavities. In fact, each generation born since the implementation of water fluoridation has enjoyed better dental health than the generation that preceded it…14 U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy issued a video statement supporting community water fluoridation in December 2015.15 In his video and written statement on fluoridation issued in 2016,15, 16 Surgeon General Murthy emphasized: Our progress on this issue over the past 70 years has been undeniable. But we still have work to do. Because we know that so much of our health is determined by zip code rather than genetic code. That’s why creating a culture of disease prevention through community efforts and ensuring health equity for all is one of my highest priorities. Community water fluoridation helps us meet these goals as it is one of the most cost-effective, equitable, and safe measures communities can take to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health.15,16 Today, the focus in achieving and maintaining health is on prevention. Established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 202017 provides a science-based, comprehensive set of ambitious, yet achievable, ten-year national objectives for improving the health of the public. Included under oral health is an objective to expand the fluoridation of public water supplies. Objective 13 states that at least 79.6% of the U.S. population served by community water systems should be receiving the benefits of optimally fluoridated water by the year 2020.18 Data from the CDC indicate that in 2014, 74.4% of the U.S. population on public water systems, or a total of 211.4 million people, had access to fluoridated water.19
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