Dating back to February 1941, the month-long celebration brings together dental professionals, health care providers, educators, policymakers and more stakeholders to promote the benefits of good oral health for children through various activities and events.
This year’s campaign slogan is “Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile,” focusing on the value of fluoridation.
Fluoride combines with enamel on the tooth’s surface to make it stronger, better able to resist decay, and prevent dental caries —the most common chronic disease for children.
Over the years, research has supported the value of fluoridation:
- In 2013, the U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services found that on average fluoridated water increased the number of people in a community without dental caries by 25 percent.
- A 2010 American Journal of Public Health article indicated that a child who consumes fluoridated water is less likely to have lost teeth from decay 40 to 50 years later in adulthood.
Water fluoridation, since it requires passive action to show effect, offers a simple solution to contain total oral health expenditures, improve population health, and set children up to have better oral health as adults.
Water fluoridation benefits the entire community, regardless of status or background, which is critical to addressing ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic barriers to effective oral healthcare—a widespread problem in the United States.
National Institutes of Health data indicates that 20 percent of White, non-Hispanic Americans have untreated tooth decay compared to 40 percent for Black, non-Hispanic Americans and 38 percent for Mexican Americans.
This data also showed that individuals below the federal poverty line (FPL) are almost three times more likely to have untreated decay compared to those making twice the FPL or above.
This makes dental disease a disease of disparities, which can be prevented, in part, by easy and free access to fluoride.
Fluoridated water is an evidence-based, cost-effective path to promote health equity and, as an oral health organization committed to improving the oral health of all, it is just another reason DentaQuest celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month.