Tag Archives: fluoride

Treatment offers an alternative to ‘drill and fill’

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Jan Fidler via Flickr

Photo: Jan Fidler via Flickr

A study presented this summer at an international dental conference has added to growing evidence that topical applications of silver diamine fluoride can serve as an effective treatment for tooth decay.

The paper, presented at the meeting of the International Association of Dental Research in South Korea, concluded that annual application the compound stopped the progress of root decay among community-dwelling elders living in Hong Kong. Continue reading

Communities may see water fluoridation levels drop because of revised recommendations

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

waterStressing that community water fluoridation remains an important tool in fighting tooth decay, public health officials have updated their recommendation for the “optimal” level of fluoride in drinking water nationwide.

The new standard, 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, was announced on April 27 by the U.S. Department of Human Services.

The level replaces a recommended range of 0.7 mg to 1.2 mg of fluoride per liter of water in place since 1962.

The optimal level, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is considered to be when the amount fluoride in drinking water is adequate to help prevent tooth decay in children and adults while limiting risk of problems such as fluorosis, a discoloration or mottling of the tooth enamel that can be caused by exposure to too much fluoride. Continue reading

How, and why, some schools provide dental care for needy children

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

In a series of stories, “The Burden of Poverty: A Backpack of Heartache,” reporters at the School News Network, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., are exploring the deep challenges poverty creates for local students and their families as well as strategies schools are employing to helping disadvantaged students succeed.

Articles in the series so far have examined the correlation between low test scores and low income and have provided a candid look at the struggles of a nearly homeless honor student. The series has highlighted the ways schools are trying to address the health disparities that can make it harder for poor children to succeed in school.

One recent story looked at the role school nurses play in helping poor children cope with chronic diseases. A Nov. 14 piece explains how a school-based dental program attends to the oral health needs of children who might otherwise be distracted from their studies by the debilitating pain of untreated dental disease. Continue reading

Separating fact from fiction on water fluoridation

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Image by Ben Kraal via flickr.

Image by Ben Kraal via flickr.

For close to seven decades now, jurisdictions across the country have been supplementing naturally-occurring fluoride in community water supplies to promote oral health. Numerous studies credit water fluoridation efforts with major reductions in tooth decay during the second half of the 20th century. Many too, attest to the safety of fluoridation at optimum levels. Yet in spite of reams of scientific evidence, debate and fear remain in some places. Last year in Portland, Ore., for example, voters overturned a city council decision to fluoridate the local water supply.

“Late last night, Portlanders rejected a plan to fluoridate their city’s water supply (and the water of over a dozen other cities),” wrote Scientific American blogger Kyle Hill in a morning-after column. “It’s the fourth time Portland has rejected the public health measure since 1956. It’s the fourth time they’ve gotten the science wrong.”

Meanwhile, similar debates over fluoride have been unfolding. How can reporters in these communities separate the science from the pseudo-science and keep the public informed?

Continue reading

Debate over fluoridation rages on: What reporters need to know

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Fluoride opposition sign in Portland, Ore.

Photo by Neal Jennings.

“Portland and its aversion to fluoride reflects Oregon’s unusual politics”

That was the headline that ran over Oregonian writer Jeff Mapes’ May 22 election story.

“In 2011, the board of the Santa Clara Valley [Calif.] Water District voted to begin fluoridating water for about 850,000 customers in and around San Jose. Anti-fluoride activists grumbled but realized they didn’t have the resources to take their fight to the public.

“That’s sure not what happened in Portland, which once again showed that this far northwest corner of the country is willing to go where other parts of the country rarely tread.

“Activists packed the City Council chambers to protest the decision to go ahead with fluoridation and then collected more than 40,000 signatures in a month to place the issue on the ballot. And then, putting together a campaign organization on the fly, they won in a walk – despite being outspent three to one.

“Whether we’re talking about how to fight tooth decay or insisting that someone else pump our gas, Oregonians’ fierce independence and easy access to a Wild West system of direct democracy creates a different civic culture here.”

In the midst of just one of the fluoride debates brewing around the country last fall, Portland’s city council voted 5-0 to approve the fluoridation of the city’s water supply.

Public health advocates cheered. But fluoride opponents swore they would fight on. And they prevailed big time. Continue reading

Battles over water fluoridation spread across the country

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

As the election returns rolled in, armies of reporters across the country went to work exploring the fate of candidates in local state and national races.

Annie Calovich of The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle had the task of exploring the fate of fluoride.

Mary OttoMary Otto, AHCJ’s topic leader on oral health is writing blog posts, editing tip sheets and articles and gathering resources to help our members cover oral health care.

If you have questions or suggestions for future resources on the topic, please send them to mary@healthjournalism.org.

The city’s hotly contested fluoride initiative, backed by local doctors and dentists, but strongly opposed by anti-fluoride activists, went down to defeat on Nov 6. Voters in city of Wichita rejected fluoridated water as they did in 1964 and 1978.

All over the country, jurisdictions are fighting over fluoride. In September, the city council in Portland, Ore., voted to fluoridate city drinking water in an effort to reduce tooth decay. In August, Milwaukee reduced the level of fluoride in its water after a city alderman launched a campaign to completely eliminate it. A year ago, in a decision that also had implications in Nov. 6 elections, Pinellas County, Fla., commissioners voted to stop adding fluoride to drinking water (more about that in a minute.)

Public health officials and state and local dental groups stand up for community fluoridation, which has been hailed by the Centers for Disease Control as one of the great public health achievements of the 20th century. For more than 65 years, communities across the United States have been supplementing naturally occurring fluoride in water supplies to promote oral health. At what are considered optimum levels, numerous studies have shown fluoride reduces cavities.

But too much fluoride can be a bad thing, public health officials have acknowledged. Consumption at excess levels may cause fluorosis and skeletal deformities, research has found. Continue reading