A Hawaii lawmaker lobbies for the state’s community water system to get fluoridated in an effort to better people’s oral health.
Democratic state senator Karl Rhoads pushes for legislation to require major public water suppliers in the state to fluoridate the drinking water. According to him, the move serves as a response to the worsening status of oral health, especially, among children.
In an interview with KITV-TV, Rhoads pointed out that fluoridating the drinking will help reduce the high prevalence of dental issues among Hawaii’s children. Moreover, it will better the dire status of the state’s overall oral health.
He added that fluoridation has been widely used in the United States and all over the world as an added protection against dental cavities. In fact, the process of adding fluoride to community waters started in 1945 in Grand Rapids.
Since then, water fluoridation has been practiced in the United States. In fact, more than 74 percent of the country receive fluoride through their waters.
Health institutions such as the World Health Organization, the American Dental Association, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention support the use of fluoride to strengthen the teeth and protect it against decay as the naturally-occurring compound helps remineralize the enamel.
Rhoads also believes that water fluoridation is a safe and cost-effective method to address the high percentage of children getting cavities. He also sees it as a way to improve the situation of Hawaii’s oral health. “In a big system like Honolulu’s, you can save up to 32 USD in reduced dental costs for every dollar you spend fluoridating,” he said.
The State of Hawaii’s Water Fluoridation
However, Hawaii positions itself last among the states in terms of water fluoridation. Only 11 percent of its community waters receive fluoride. Moreover, only military properties benefit from the system, leaving more than 1.2 million of the state’s population out.
The state has remained adamant despite the statistics that suggest the dire situation of its dental health. In fact, 71 percent of third graders have had cavities which are higher by 19 percent than the national average. Additionally, 22 percent of third-graders do not receive the oral care they need and suffer from untreated dental caries.
If the legislation comes through, the Hawaii Department of Health will have to reimburse water suppliers for the initial expenses incurred in water fluoridation. It will also need to provide technical assistance and training. Adding to that, it will need to submit a report to the state legislature regarding the implementation of the water fluoridation system.