mdac hdr 2

September, 2011
In This Issue:
Is Fluoridation a Thing of the Past or the Future?
Another Confirmation that Fluoridated Water is Safe
Maine Public Health Association
MDAC Quarterly Meeting
Fall for Smiles
National Children's Oral Health Month Materials
Quick Links  
Word of Mouth
Dear Sarah,

Word of Mouth is the newsletter of the Maine Dental Access Coalition. We welcome your comments and invite your ideas for content.
Is Fluoridation a Thing of the Past or the Future? Two movies that help us understand.
Guest Column by John Bastey, Director of Government Relations of the Maine Dental Association fromMDA NewsJournal for August, 2011
Back to the Future  

When I was a kid there was a movie (maybe some of you remember it)-- Dr. Strangelove. In that spoof of the cold war, Sterling Hayden played Gen. Jack Ripper. The General was consumed with the idea that water fluoridation was a Communist plot to sap the vital juices of Americans. That was back in the dark ages, 1964, when fluoridation of public water supplies was a hot topic. The movie, and especially Gen. Ripper, were caricatures of cold war militarism and the then current campaign against adding fluoride to public drinking water.

The other movie, Back to the Future, with Michael J. Fox, is more current and relates the story of a teen who is flipped back into his parents' day and lives some time in their 1960s lives.


Those two movie themes encapsulate what is going on in Maine right now. In some towns it seems we are back in the 1960s, fighting the same anti-fluoridation battles our mothers and fathers fought before us, except now we are trying to keep public water supplies in Maine fluoridated.


Where are the battles being fought? The town of Mt. Desert de-fluoridated about five years ago and Jackman-Moose River about 3 years ago. The Kennebunk-Kennebunkport water district tried two years ago too, but failed. Island Falls water district tried to remove fluoride a year and a half ago, and is discussing removal again this year. Likewise there is currently an effort in the Great Salt Bay water district serving Damariscotta and Newcastle and in Baileyville where the Town Council may, or may not, vote to remove fluoride. On the good news side, the towns of Lincoln and Howland, who share a water system, may vote to institute fluoridation in the near future.


Why are these Strangelovian battles being still being fought? For three reasons:

  1. Because some folks, like General Ripper, can't get anti-fluoridation-ism out of their heads,
  2. Because the Internet makes mis-information so quickly and easily available,
  3. Because towns facing budget crunches see removing fluoride as a way to save a few dollars.

But the science is essentially the same. Fluoridation works, especially for the young. Now we are learning it works for the elderly as well, as receding gums reveal previously covered tooth structure to bacterial attack.


Some changes in the recommended amount of fluoride in public water have taken place as more information is gleaned from the more than fifty years of fluoride experience, and the level in Maine is being reduced from 1.2 PPM to 0.7. Parents of very young children are advised not to use fluoridated water in making baby formula due to the chance of fluorosis ( a cosmetic concern that could mean some tooth discoloration), a very remote possibility. It is unfortunate that anti-fluoridationists have latched onto these minor changes in recommendations as ";proof"; of the ";danger"; of community water fluoridation....and they are becoming more and more vocal in Maine.


The arguments used against fluoridation are pretty much the same as always, but now with a pseudo-scientific gloss to them. Comments like ";This is an industrial waste material from China"; are used, or ";Studies show cancer in young boys"; is heard and ";Fluoridation isn't needed anymore because toothpaste has fluoride and there are other sources of fluoride in food."; These and many other specious arguments are made to convince folks to take fluoride out of the drinking water. I suppose the fact that no one says ";Fluoride saps our vital juices"; or ";It's a Communist plot"; anymore shows at least some improvement, or maybe I haven't visited that Website yet...


The MDA is, of course, fully in support of keeping and increasing the number of fluoridated public water systems in the Maine, and we welcome efforts from all oral health allies and advocates, especially at the local level where these battles are being waged.  


You are the experts and this is a matter of public health. Saving a few dollars in the town budget is not a good reason to take fluoride out of the water. It is critical that oral health professionals and advocates support water fluoridation in their communities. Education is an ongoing effort. Start now to build a groundswell of support-before your town or city is faced with an anti-fluoridation effort.


For links to research and information about fluoridation in Maine go to the Resources page of the MDAC web site. Scroll down to ";Community Water Fluoridation; Healthy and Safe";.

Yet Another Confirmation that Fluoridated Water is Safekids drinking water
The Journal of Dental Research  published a study this summer that concludes there is no correlation between fluoride and osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, another confirmation that fluoridated water is a safe, public health strategy.  The press release on the new study is here.


In its 2006 report on fluoride, the National Research Council noted that if fluoride might be linked to cancer, osteosarcoma was the most plausible type of cancer because fluoride tends to concentrate in human bone.  The fact that this study shows no such link means Americans can feel more confident that fluoride does not cause any form of cancer. 


In its 2006 report, the National Research Council pointed out that earlier studies of possible links between fluoride and cancer are unreliable because ";populations rather than individuals are the unit of observation.";  By contrast, this newly released Harvard study was based on individuals' fluoride exposure.  The researchers based their analysis on bone fluoride levels, which is a much more sound and reliable way to assess fluoride exposure from all sources.


This is a thorough, impressive and credible study.  The researchers analyzed hundreds of bone specimens for fluoride content.  The study design was approved by the National Cancer Institute and was funded by three divisions of the National Institutes of Health.  It reflects the strong commitment of our nation's premier research institution to answer an important question.


Osteosarcoma is a very rare bone cancer, and the cause remains unknown.  It is important that scientists continue to explore possible causes of this disease.  We hope that fluoridation opponents will stop confusing families that are dealing with this serious diagnosis by making claims that are based on their agenda to stop fluoridation-not based on a genuine concern to prevent this form of cancer.


This is a thorough and credible study funded by three divisions of the National Institutes of Health.  Using a study design approved by the National Cancer Institute the researchers analyzed hundreds of bone specimens for fluoride content.  This response to the NAS report reflects the strong commitment of our nation's premier research institutions to answer an important question.  

Maine Public Health Association 

 Registration is open for the Maine Public Health Association's Annual Meeting on October 18th.


For a detailed agenda, breakout session listings and to register- click here.    


MDAC Quarterly Meeting: September 30,2011

The next quarterly meeting will be held at MCD, 11 Parkwood Drive in Augusta, at 9:45 -2:30 PM. Lunch is included and committees, which are open to everyone, meet after lunch. 


To register contact Dot Seigars at or 622-7566 x 232  

Next meeting: December 2, 2011 


Fall for Smiles 
Fall For Smiles logo The second annual Fall for Smiles® campaign, from Oral Health America  aims to remind policymakers and the public about the importance of dental self-care, regular dental visits, healthy food choices, and avoiding tobacco your target audience. There are lots of free resources and suggestions at the web site.  


National Children's Oral Health Month Materials
February is National Children's Dental Health Month and the 2012 free program posters are available for shipping.To place an order for posters, please visit the ncdhm website at .  


The Maine Dental Access Coalition (MDAC) is a public-private partnership focused on improving access to oral care. The Coalition's mission is ";To advocate for and improve access to quality preventive and comprehensive oral health care for all Maine residents.";
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