The Pudding Tastes Good … So Far

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  • 4 Journal of Public Health Dentistry


    The Pudding Tastes Good ... So Far A while back-two years ago to be exact-an editorial entitled A Rebirth for

    Fluoridation appeared in this spot. It described the resurgence of the push for fluori- dation within the Public Health Service particularly as it appeared to hold promise through the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. The editorial concluded: Whether the [fluoridation] gains will continue and the losses will diminish remains to be seen. Whether the style which Vernon Houk and his group at CDC have begun continues in a real way also remains to be seen. The proof of the pudding.. . .

    Now that two years have gone by and the pudding has been served up and some of it eaten, one can conclude rather objectively that the pudding tastes good. The folks at CDC (now the Centers for Disease Control) in Atlanta can be proud indeed of their efforts on behalf of fluoridation. Consider for a moment that they started almost from nothing when they accepted the transfer of responsibility for fluoridation from the Division of Dentistry. They really had only Bill Bock and Cora Mae Lueckhart and some secretarial support. Cora Mae, a veritable repository of information about fluoridation, was all too soon lost to retirement. Bill Bock, while a qualified and knowledgeable public health dentist, was not in the best of health, havingjust suffered a second MI. Despite an almost nonexistent budget, a job freeze, and the limited, albeit competent and knowledgeable personnel, the Dental Disease Prevention Activity (DDPA) of the Centers for Disease Control has built a staff of engineers, community organizers, and other staff of the first water (pun intended if first water by definition requires optimum fluoride in it). The DDPA at CDC set out to gain Congressional appropriations to help states with their fluoridation efforts. With the first $6.0 million, assistance has been provided in all but 12 states (four states submitted grant applications that were approved but not funded, two states appli- cations are still under review, two states applications were not approved, and while nine states as such did not apply directly for aid, five of those states did have com- munities which were funded).

    In addition, during the past year, four major cities scheduled for referenda on fluoridation were selected as prime target areas: Portland, Oregon; Alameda East Bay MUD, California; Kansas City, Missouri; and Lansing, Michigan. Of these four cities, election results were favorable to fluoridation in three-all but Portland.

    John Small of NIDR reports that, in the recent November referenda, while places with a total population of 850,000 voted in favor; the no voters held off fluoridation for 153,000 people. North Platte, Nebraska on final count turned out to be a loser (population 20,000), but the big loser was Lafayette, Louisiana (population 100,000). Biggest winners in the November vote were Kansas City, Missouri; Lansing, Michi- gan; and Macon, Georgia.

    Of the first $6.0 million of the federal grants for fluoridation, 308 new cities with a population of 5,400,000 have been fluoridated, 50 new school water systems have been fluoridated (population of 17,500), and 25 systems have been upgraded (population 307,000). All told for that $6.0 million, almost six million people have benefited. Not a bad cost:benefit ratio.

    Thus far the pudding has tasted good. Lets hope it continues to taste good all the way to the last spoonful. -DFS