An Oklahoma Town’s Oral Health Challenge
The city of Shawnee, Oklahoma is exploring ways to improve the dental health of its residents. As this newspaper article reports, local dentists have seen a spike in cavities since the community stopped fluoridating its water in 2005. The decision to discontinue fluoridation occurred after Hurricane Katrina created a lingering disruption in the city’s supply of fluoride supplier. According to the newspaper:
The Shawnee Pediatric Association and Shawnee Dental Association have approached (City Manager Brian) McDougal about starting to add fluoride to the water again, he said, but Shawnee requires “additional capital needs” for water treatment and distribution.
Dr Nan Shadid, who has been a dentist in Shawnee for 28 years, said she has noticed a significant increase in the number of children with cavities since Shawnee ceased water fluoridation.
Resuming fluoridation would require the city to build a new facility and system, which could cost between $150,000 and $200,000. Of course, if you put that in context, it would be money wisely spent. As this Pew infographic notes, fluoridation returns $38 for every dollar invested in this health practice.