To the Editor:
The most common disease in childhood is dental caries (tooth decay). It can cause pain, infection, and early loss of teeth. This disease can be prevented inexpensively by simply providing three essential daily routines: A slight amount of fluoride to strengthen teeth; a diet low in sugars; effective cleaning of the mouth.
Treatment of dental disease is expensive. It can easily cost $3,000 to save and restore one infected molar. Due to evidence-based research, we have known for over 60 years of the safe and effective dose of systemic fluoride for developing strong decay-resistant teeth. Fluoride in public water or oral supplements hardens the teeth developing below the gums. Topical fluoride in pastes, rinses, etc., benefits the already erupted teeth. Many compounds can be helpful in very small amounts and only become toxic in excessive doses. This is the key to the fluoride controversy.
I was born and raised here, graduating from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 1966. After earning a college degree in dental hygiene I returned to the Vineyard and began my life’s work of 42 years helping people of all ages to achieve good dental health. During the late 1970s I was hired by the Martha’s Vineyard school system to determine the dental needs of students in kindergarten through grade 12. After counting the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth, the evidence proved that Island school children had a high rate of dental decay. Notices were sent home to parents of children needing dental care. Sadly, some parents could not afford treatment. After discussing the survey results with superintendent of schools Rufus Shorter, I held a workshop with school nurses. We implemented a prevention program including elective fluoride supplements to be dispensed by the elementary schools, educating students on toothbrushing and reducing sugar intake. Unfortunately this program did not last long enough.
My two daughters received fluoride supplements from six months to age 12. They both have strong, healthy teeth. You can live without teeth or other body parts, but it definitely impacts the quality of one’s life and the health of the whole body.
Oak Bluffs has been providing a health benefit by fluoridating its public water system. I hope it continues.
Lee Domont R.D.H.