Standing up for community fluoridation

Organizations provide resources for dental professionals’ battles over fluoridation

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With dental health just passing us by, it is an appropriate time to spotlight an organization that focuses on promoting oral health. The Campaign for Dental Health (CDH) is a program of the American Academy of Pediatrics with support from the California Dental Association, Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, DentaQuest Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Washington Dental Service Foundation. These organizations strive to ensure that people of all ages have access to the most effective, affordable, and equitable way to protect teeth from dental caries — community water fluoridation.

Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 02 Dreamstime Xl 4133673The CDH is a broad network of oral health advocates, health professionals, child and family organizations, and scientists who are working together to preserve our nation’s gains in oral health. It is our mission to provide the public and policy makers with the evidence-based information and tools they need to promote and protect this important public health measure. CDH states quite simply and eloquently that life is better with teeth, and I am sure all dental hygienists would agree wholeheartedly with this statement. Too many of us have witnessed the devastation experienced when children or adults have lost teeth, especially realizing that this is such a preventable occurrence.

Interestingly, the 70th anniversary for community water fluoridation is this year, so it sure is a great time in history for dental hygienists to promote this preventive modality.

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In recognition of the 70th anniversary of community water fluoridation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed several new posters, infocards, and an infographic that can be used to educate the public about the benefits of fluoride and community water fluoridation. Some of the images contain general information appropriate for use in public health and clinicians’ offices as well as other settings. Others celebrate the efforts of those who work in the water industry and voters and decision makers who have made this vital public health intervention available in their communities.

For further reading on community water fluoridation check out the material at http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/materials/index.html.

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CDH is promoting a fluoridation toolkit that would help local associations and clinics promote access to community water fluoridation. The toolkit is available on their website. First and foremost are resources available for the dental hygienist, which emphasize the science —evidence-based research on community water fluoridation. CDH has improved the accessibility to these reports with direct links.

This toolkit also includes blog posts about fluoridation, memos for newspapers, and social media messages. Tips for dental hygienists to use when talking to reporters and stakeholders are also available. In an effort to improve health literacy, posters are downloadable in both English and Spanish. CDH states that these resources can assist communities in making rational decisions about their health based on science, not fear. They further state that the goals of their work and this website is to share the facts about oral health and preventive strategies such as fluoride.

CDH partners with local, state, and national organizations. A dental hygiene association or agency can contact CDH to find out how to become a partner. As dental hygienists, we know too well the issues associated with dental caries and are always striving to promote prevention. This campaign is an excellent resource for those of us promoting oral health and community water fluoridation. As advocates in our community, we need to collaborate with other like-minded entities to promote oral health in our communities!

Much of this information from the column can be found at the CDH website at Ilikemyteeth.org.

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