Albany Residents Will Benefit from Fluoride in Water

Posted & filed under Communities Supporting Fluoride, Fluoride and Public Health, Fluoride in the News, Sustain or Initiate Fluoridation in your Community.

Residents of Albany, the capital city of New York State, will benefit from fluoride in water. The municipality begins to fluoridate its tap water next year. The Common Council in Albany voted 12-0 last month in favor of the proposal, and the mayor has signed the measure. This victory for public health is a long time in coming.

Oral health advocates have tried for decades to convince city officials to initiate water fluoridation. Although the roadblock was often the Common Council, the city’s mayors — one of whom called fluoridation “un-American.” — have opposed this common sense public health practice.

As several advocates in Albany pointed out, there is probably no public health measure that is more American than community water fluoridation. The first fluoridation study took place in the U.S. Today roughly two-thirds of the nation has access to tap water with fluoride.

Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, the former health commissioner of Albany County, was one of the leading advocates for water fluoridation. In remarks to the Common Council, she called Albany “an unfortunate outlier”. It is the only major city in New York that has never provided fluoridated water to its residents.

In conversations with council members, Dr. Whalen highlighted a 2010 study on tooth decay in New York State. This study compared the Medicaid costs of treating tooth decay in counties that were and were not fluoridated. The number of decay-related procedures for children in less fluoridated counties was 33% higher than in predominantly fluoridated counties.

“Our surrounding cities including Troy and Schenectady have the benefit of fluoride in the water supply,” Dr. Whalen said. “And we know that the dental health of children on Medicaid is better in these cities than that of our [Albany] children on Medicaid.”

Although most of the Council’s discussion focused on its benefits to children, it’s worth noting that fluoride reduces tooth decay in adults too. 75+ years of experience in communities all across America has provided evidence  of the good that fluoride can do. It is the most cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all members of the community regardless of age, educational attainment, or income level, and that benefits everyone.