Fluoridated water: ‘for the greater good of all’ Another voice column

By ROSEANN MCELHERAN

Special to the News

April 20

I am writing to address concerns on the fluoride issue. We the pro-fluoride of Hood River are urging people to vote No in May and Yes in November.

A lot of our citizens realize that fluoride is a good thing but they say things like, “Why can’t we just give fluoride tablets to the kids that need it?” “It is good for kids, but I don’t really need it.” “Why can’t you just educate people instead of a blanket fix?” I would like to comment on these concerns.

Most people do not realize that fluoride is not just for kids; fluoridation benefits Americans of all ages and socioeconomic status. Yes, it is important to children, to the development of strong healthy teeth. Children do not vote and are not knowledgeable about dental health. Yet, parents who don’t allow their children to have fluoridated water will affect their entire lives, because cavities in childhood may become root canals or extractions in adulthood. The anti-fluoride belief is held in the face of the facts that fluoridated water tastes the same, has no ill health side effects and does not interfere with any of our activities.

Fluoride for adults with root exposure helps not only sensitivity to hot and cold but also prevention of cavities on a much more susceptible surface than enamel. Fluoride benefits the elderly because the decrease of normal saliva as we age (or with many medications) increases the risk of cavities.

If a family is financially struggling, what goes out the window is the trip to the dentist — and how could they possibly afford fluoride tablets? Research clearly shows that supplements are unreliable because not everyone takes them (even when supplied). There is worldwide agreement that any plan which relies on home application or individual citizen compliance is not effective. Also, taking supplements, as an alternative to fluoridated water, does not help the rest of us decrease cavities and keep our restorative dental work lasting longer.

It may sound good to just say, “Let’s just educate,” but it is very naive. Education is, I believe, what we are doing. Our area has started, funded, organized and supplied over a half dozen oral health programs, free dental services, toothbrush and hygiene “giveaways” and cooperative Head Start and Oregon Child Development Coalition programs. The results of all this effort and expense has been only very modest drops in the decay rates at best. Education programs have been studied and found to be ineffective in decreasing cavities (British Dental Journal, October 2003). There simply is no magical, yet undiscovered plan which can improve dental health in Hood River other than fluoridation.

We are a society that does things for the greater good of all, for example, iodized salt, vitamin D fortified milk, Calcium enriched vitamin C and vaccines for kids. Goiter, rickets, chicken pox, polio to name a few, are diseases of the past, thanks to “the greater good of all.”

The question is whether you are really willing to sacrifice the majority of population of dental health in exchange for getting what you want — when the fluoride in the water does not cause harm to those who don’t want it.

Fluoride should not be a political football; it is a health issue best left to advisers like the Center of Disease Control, which recommends the optimum level of fluoride in our community water systems. I guess it comes down to whom you believe, the Centers for Disease Control (visit their Web site at www.cdc.gov) — which has brought us the epitome of scientific research evidence — or an empirical testimonial of Joe Blow.

*****

Roseann McElheran lives in Maupin

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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