Water fluoridation will improve community health
By Avel Gordly and Tricia Tillman
As lifelong Portlanders we are deeply committed to the health and well being of our beloved community and the people of Portland.
There are small things that we can do each day to take better care of ourselves. We can go for a walk, we can make healthier choices about what we eat, and we can brush our teeth two times or more each day.
Unfortunately, toothbrushes and toothpaste alone aren’t enough. We’re in the midst of a dental health crisis in Portland. Too many people are suffering from painful dental decay, which disproportionately affects families that are already struggling and can’t afford regular visits to a dentist.
One in five children sitting in Portland classrooms suffer from untreated decay. For those without the resources to get dental services, this can mean living day after day with a painful infection. Studies have shown that dental disease impacts how well students do in school.
Kids in Portland suffer from 40 percent more decay than children in Seattle, which has fluoridated water. We want to change that because every child deserves a chance to be healthy and thrive. Water fluoridation is one of the most important health equity issues facing our community today.
In Portland, fluoridation is being supported by virtually all organizations that advocate for social justice, health, and children’s issues.
Nationally, every trusted health organization recommends water fluoridation, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Health Organization.
Additionally, 100 Black Men of America and recently the National Black Caucus of State Legislators went public with their support.
The caucus found that community water fluoridation is a safe, cost-effective public health intervention proven to prevent tooth decay and reduce oral health disparities. The group urges state and local governments to implement and maintain optimal levels of water fluoridation in public water supplies.
The science is clear. Fluoridated water is effective in dramatically decreasing decay and there are no associated health issues, nor environmental concerns, whatsoever.
Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel making it resistant to decay. A vote for water fluoridation will provide a basic level of protection for everyone and save us all money on dental services.
Water fluoridation is the single most important act we can do to decrease health disparities in our community. As two lifelong Portlanders, deeply committed to health and our community, we stand with all the local and national health and social justice organizations and pledge our support for this important health equity measure.
Please join us and vote YES on Measure 26-151 on May 21.
Avel Gordly is a former state senator and sponsor of legislation for environmental justice, multicultural health, and equity. Tricia Tillman is a public health professional, community organizer, and environmental justice advocate.