Fluoridation News Quarterly
Vol 1 January 2019
Fluoride exists in water naturally. The public health initiative of water fluoridation is simply the adjustment of that fluoride to the level at which maximum dental decay benefit will be obtained with no adverse effects.
In This Issue:
- Comments From The President
- Latest Research News
- Recent Activities of AFS
- AFS Training Program
- Myth Busters
- T-Shirt Info – “F Yeah!”
- About the AFS
Board of Directors
President: Johnny Johnson, Jr,. DMD, MS
Vice-President: Myron Allukian, Jr,. DDS, MPH
Secretary: Jennifer Martinson, BS, RDH
Treasurer: Kurt L. Ferré, DDS
Communications Officer: Steven D. Slott, DDS
Board Emeritus: Charles C. Haynie, MD, FACS
Comments From AFS President, Dr. Johnny Johnson
Welcome!! I want to jump right into a very exciting community water fluoridation (CWF) effort that was on the ballot this past Election Day in a Florida town barely an hour away from my home. We won this vote to continue CWF by a 65 to 35% margin!
This battle had all of the tough challenges that you could throw into the mix:
The mayor was anti-CWF and made this a mission of hers to cease it after three decades.
The community was relatively uninformed about CWF and had no idea this was being challenged.
The proposal was placed on a very long ballot in an off-year general election .
What wasn’t expected by the mayor and two city council members that supported her goal to put it to a referendum was the response of the local community. And were they unpleasantly surprised. The silent majority was highly motivated to turn out in droves to soundly defeat this attempt to cease CWF.
I would like to recognize the local leaders who were key in educating the community on what was going on. As well, I cannot emphasize the role that the media played in constantly educating the families in Brooksville. That ranged from the local radio stations, newspaper, to NPR and NBC National News.
In local campaigns like this, it’s crucial to have respected people outside of the dental and medical community who are on your side.
Continued after AFS Training Program Section …
Latest Research News
2018 Studies by Slade, Sanders, Maas, et al. Demonstrate Effectiveness of Fluoridation, and Improvement in Health Disparities of the Underserved Population
The first study, Water Fluoridation and Dental Caries in US Children (published in the June, 14 ,2018 edition of the Journal of Dental Research) sought to evaluate associations between availability of community water fluoridation (CWF) and dental caries experience in the U.S. child and adolescent population. Using County-level estimates of the percentage of population served by CWF (% CWF) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Water Fluoridation Reporting System merged with dental examination data from 10 y of National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1999 to 2004 and 2011 to 2014) the study concluded:
“These findings confirm a substantial caries-preventive benefit of CWF for U.S. children and that the benefit is most pronounced in primary teeth.”
The second study, Water Fluoridation Lessens Income-Related Inequality in Dental Caries of U.S. Children and Adolescents ( G. Slade, A. Sanders, published in JAMA Pediatrics) it was noted:
Thisis the first U.S. study to show evidence that water fluoridation attenuates income-related inequalities in dental caries. The degree of attenuation was less pronounced in the permanent dentition, possibly because the level of decay was about half that of primary teeth. Greater attenuation in the permanent dentition might be seen in early adulthood, as the burden of DMFS doubles between adolescence and early adulthood.”
Criticisms of Recent NTP Study Without Merit
The recent animal study by the National Toxicology Program has predictably concluded no adverse cognitive effects on rats, resulting in equally predictable criticism of the study by the same fluoridation opponents who had initially requested the study be performed, promoted it as “what could be the most significant scientific development of them all” lauding the NTP for its “cutting-edge scientific tools”, and claimed it “could end fluoridation”. (Fluoridealert December 11, 2015)
As would be expected, once it became public that the results of this study did not support the claims of opponents, the usual conspiracy/corruption, improper methods, and other groundless claims, began being leveled at the NTP study by those same opponents who had themselves requested and promoted the study and the integrity of the NTP.
In response to these criticisms, principle author of the NTP study, Dr. Jean Harry, stated the following:
The rationale for strain selection was based on three factors.
- For learning and memory tasks requiring detection of visual cues, rats with pigmented eyes offer better visual acuity than albino rats (Prusky et al 2002). As presented in the NTP systematic review, longer latencies for learning and memory tasks in fluoride-exposed rats raised the possibility that some deficits may also be due to compromised vision.
- The Long-Evans Hooded rat is a cross-breed of Wistar albino females with wild gray males. Thus, it allowed us to stay with the predominant Wistar rat genetic background yet have the benefit of pigmented eyes.
- Research groups such as NIDA have long employed Long-Evans Hooded rats for behavioral tests such as those used in the McPherson et al (2018) paper, and such research provided us a strong historical database for the behavior in rats maintained on the standard diet used in the McPherson et al (2018) study.
Insummary, far from generating “false results” that may “misinform the public”, our data utilize an exposure level near the recommended level for human exposure and provide an extensive, systematic evaluation of sensory, motor, and cognitive function in a relevant animal model. Instead of misleading regulators and the public, the results of the McPherson et al (2018) help clarify a generally confusing database and can only facilitate decisions concerning the safety of fluoride exposure through the drinking water.
AFS Training Program
The AFS train-the-trainer program is designed to create a cadre of dental professionals who will become trainers in their respective states with these objectives:
- Enhance the fluoride-related knowledge of dental professionals in their states;
- Provide guidance for dental professionals to have brief, productive conversations with patients and the public about fluoride and fluoridation;
- Encourage dental professionals to identify health fairs, monthly health observances and other events as proactive opportunities to educate the public about fluoride and fluoridation;
- Identify dental professionals who can serve as public spokespersons on CWF and/or provide testimony to state or local governmental bodies;
- Engage dental professionals to approach CWF decision-makers to provide education and scientific materials, appropriately framed for the health literacy of the decision-makers;
To date, the AFS has provided this valuable training in 4 states, with plans to increase this yearly.
Comments From AFS President … Continued
Case in point: Reverend Frankie Burnett, who is a former City Council member in Brooksville and staunch supporter of CWF. Rev. Burnett was critical in encouraging many people, especially the African American community, to step up and be counted at the polls. I worked with several local advocates to distribute 150 t-shirts with the slogan “Keep Brooksville Fluoridated, Vote Yes.” These t-shirts were widely worn and helped us advertise the upcoming election.
Ashley Thomas was another person I want to praise. She is the Public Information Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Hernando County. Ashley worked tirelessly to provide educational materials to families in Brooksville. She also appeared with me on many of the 6-7 radio interviews that were produced by the local radio stations. The media and other stakeholders helped to raise awareness that CWF (and good oral health) were in jeopardy, including:
- Hernando County Times newspaper
- Hernando County Government Broadcasting Station interview
- WWJB (AM) and WXJB (FM)
- WUSF (University of South Florida) and NPR
- Florida Dental Association: Yard signs, engaging local dentists, and media assistance.
- NBC National News
Folks, this is the kind of help that AFS wants to bring to your community.. We can help you with your local battle(s), provide you with materials and documents to rebuke claims by opponents, as well as provide “boots on the ground expert testimony” at your request. All of this is at no or little cost to you. We are funded by a grant from Delta Dental of California’s “Community Care Foundation, Oral Health Education Fund”.
Get in touch by emailing me!
Dr. Johnny Johnson, AFS President
AFS F-Yeah! T-Shirts
The Story of the “F-Yeah!” Shirts
In May 2013, public health advocates in Portland, OR lost an emotional campaign to end their city’s distinction of being the the largest city in the United States that doesn’t fluoridate its public water supply.
Portland is the home to AFS Treasurer, Dr. Kurt Ferré, and a dental colleague who lives in the same neighborhood. It is also home to the sister of the colleague, who thought that the lawn sign with a smiley mouth for the pro-fluoridation campaign, was “too nice”. Being a high school chemistry teacher she took it upon herself to create a limited edition of her own, edgy, lawn sign for “Portlandia”. Taking the symbol for Fluorine from the Periodic Table she stenciled “Yeah!” to its right and placed the ballot measure number at the bottom. One of these creative lawn signs was placed in front of the home of her brother, the dentist friend of Dr. Ferré. Of course, Ferré noticed the sign immediately.
Win or lose there are always “lessons learned” from a political campaign. Dr. Ferré was asked to speak about the Portland fluoridation campaign at the 2014 National Oral Health Conference (NOHC) in Ft. Worth. Wanting to end his talk on a positive (and humorous) note, Dr. Ferré told the story of the “F Yeah!” lawn sign, held up the sign, and shouted “F Yeah! This was met with enthusiastic applause. A dental hygienist friend of Ferré’s immediately approached him afterwards and said, “Kurt, we need to make T-shirts with ‘F Yeah!’ on the fronts of them.
Back in Portland, Dr. Ferré found a local T-shirt company to begin production on these tees. Then, using social media, he reached out to his Facebook friends and dental colleagues about the shirts. He sold about 40 tees in his first batch. Subsequently, at the recommendation of Ferré, AFS board members agreed to utilize the T-shirts as a way to advertise the AFS. The AFS name, logo, and website would be placed on the back, with the “F-Yeah!” on the front.
Since 2015 the AFS has had an exhibit booth at the NOHC spreading the word about the AFS “boots on the ground” advocacy for fluoridation, and selling tees. The edgy nature of the front of the tee has made for an excellent conversation starter, especially at dental and public health conferences. However, wearing the tee out in public was often met with blank stares. The board decided that the word “FLUORIDATION” placed in a smaller font under the F symbol might be a better configuration. The edgy “F Yeah!” would catch the attention of people, who would then notice the word “FLUORIDATION”.
After the 2018 NOHC In Louisville, the board opened discussion to, once again, redesign the tee, because some of the board members felt that the lay public still didn’t understand its front. The 5 board members held a contest amongst themselves, and came up with 6 possible designs for the front. Each board member ranked each design. The winning logo placed “Fluoridation?” in a much larger font at the top, and the answer, “F Yeah!” underneath. On the back was added, “Fluoridation, the foundation for good oral health”.
While the new design will be the only one officially available from the AFS, as some Oregon public health colleagues have expressed a preference for the edginess of the original front logo, that logo will be available upon request.
The new tees will be available at the 2019 NOHC in Memphis next April. For any who can’t wait until then, however, tees can be ordered by contacting Kurt Ferré at email@example.com . Cost is $20.00 + $5.00 for postage and handling.