I want to thank our City Councilmembers for their continued support in moving Spokane closer to joining the three quarters of the U.S. who benefit from community water fluoridation. Community water fluoridation has been an important part of improving the health of Americans for over 75 years.
Those of us in healthcare have been witness to the devastating consequences of high rates of tooth decay in Spokane. In my 30+ years as a practicing dentist in Spokane, it was always easy to spot people who were raised in areas that had community water fluoridation versus those who spent their childhood in Spokane. Compared to like populations in Seattle and Tacoma, Spokane’s most vulnerable people suffer more from poor oral health. The most obvious reason is the 50 years that the Seattle area has enjoyed the optimal level of fluoride in its drinking water.
I have been involved in in starting two dental clinics in Spokane specifically for low-income people and those with disabilities and, therefore, know firsthand the problems associated with inadequate levels of fluoride in our community. Water fluoridation is important in addressing health inequities.
During my eight years on the Washington State Board of Health, I have heard just about every possible evil that can be attributed fluoride. However, these claims have not been supported by rigorous research done in trusted scientific institutions in our country. There are literally thousands of studies attesting to the efficacy and safety of community water fluoridation in respected publications.
Every other large city in our state has the optimal level of fluoride in its drinking water. It is time for Spokane’s residents to enjoy those benefits as well.
James Sledge, D.D.S., F.A.C.D.