Advocacy

Educate your patients about community water fluoridation

Although three out of four Americans on public water supplies benefit from fluoridation, the misinformation about fluoridation is far too prevalent. Therefore, science-based decision making is important for educating our communities.

I, along with Dr. Alwafi Abdulraheem, wrote a study published in the fall 2017 issue of the Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society that showed anti-fluoridation activities on the internet and social media were predominately against fluoridation: 94% on social media, including YouTube, and 2-to-1 on website hits. Thousands of Americans are being misinformed every day. Dental professionals can best combat this by educating their patients every day.

Invest in and take advantage of the opportunities to serve society in both your practice and in your community about the importance of water fluoridation.

Dr. Myron Allukian Jr., MPH

What can you do?

Be familiar with ASDA’s I-1 fluoridation policy, which encourages the fluoridation of community water supplies as a scientifically proven safe and effective means of preventing dental decay as recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service.

Educate all of your patients about the health and economic benefits of community water fluoridation. Show them the scientific literature if needed. Provide the best evidence-based quality care you can to meet the needs of your patients. Spend time educating them on how to improve their oral health knowledge, skills and behavior.

Learn the myths against fluoridation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Fluoridation Society provide more information to help you dispel the myths.

If your patients comes from a fluoridated community, ​let them know they are fortunate because they will have less tooth decay and infections, and lower dental bills.

If your patients come from a non-fluoridated community, educate them about the benefits of fluoridation. Help them achieve fluoridation by becoming involved with community advocates. If every dental student in your school did this with every new patient and during recall visits, they will make an enormous impact on the oral health of that community.

Get involved when you become a dentist, whether it is through organized dentistry, a local board of health, the PTA, the school board or a community organization.

You will be among the most educated in your community. Don’t let that go to waste by just using your knowledge in your office. Get involved. Give back. Keep up with evidence-based studies. You have a remarkable opportunity to pay it forward based on your knowledge and regardless of your debt. Invest in and take advantage of the opportunities to serve society not only in your practice but in your community as well.

Read more about Dr. Allukian in the May 2019 issue of Contour magazine.

~Dr. Myron Allukian Jr., MPH

Dr. Myron Allukian Jr.

Dr. Myron Allukian Jr., MPH, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 1964. He was in the U.S. Navy, where he served in Vietnam at the 3rd Marine Division Field Hospital for mass casualties in 1965. He is an internationally recognized dental public health expert and serves as president of the Massachusetts Coalition for Oral Health, vice president of the American Fluoridation Society, vice chair of the Oral Health Working Group of the World Federation of Public Health Associations and a member of the National Academy of Medicine. He is a faculty member at Harvard, Tufts and Boston universities’ dental schools and works with AEGD and dental public health residents at NYU Langone Health, in addition to other public health activities.

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18 Comments

  1. Anas Abualala says:

    Dr. Myron Allukian Jr. is on point on community water fluoridation and how to educate your patients. All members of the dental team including dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and all students should be doing this on a regular basis if we want to improve the oral health of the whole community. Unfortunately, this is not usually happening in most dental schools.

  2. Alex Jason says:

    Wow!! Great article. Smart idea and badly needed! Bravo.

  3. May Chaaban says:

    This is an important topic and as Dr. Allukian mentioned in the article, every person working in the dental field should be responsible to support community water fluoridation and educate the public about its benefits. In fact, water fluoridation is the most efficient way to prevent dental decay and save money for the public.

  4. Ziad Hennawi says:

    I agree with Dr. Allukian.
    When the going gets tough, having a constituency is key, thats why patient education about fluoride is the key to winning a community water fluoridation challenge in any community.

  5. Jaime Brooks says:

    Misinformation is something dental professionals, like myself, battle daily! Thank you for discussing such an interesting and important topic, Dr.Allukian!

  6. malik farraj says:

    Educating the patients about the benefits of water fluoridation is important in order to battle the huge load of misinformation out there.

  7. Tej says:

    thank you for discussing such an important topic. We need to educate, develop more awareness in the community about the benefits of water fluoridation.

  8. Mohammed Alulaiyan says:

    I have a huge respect for Dr. Allukian and what he did, specially regarding water fluoridation. I was so privileged to hear that story directly from him. I think we should spend more time as individual dentists to teach our patients about the importance of fluoridation.

  9. Riddhi says:

    Education and awareness on water fluoridation is much needed among the healthcare community. Thank you for an informative article Dr. Allukiyan.

  10. Melvin M Thomas says:

    Community water fluoridation has been proven time and again to be a safe and effective way to prevent decay in a community, town city or country. In a day and age where Healthcare costs are skyrocketing we must do everything we can to not only protect the health and well-being of our citizens but also contain the unwanted spending for tooth decay that can be prevented.

  11. Amna Alwalie says:

    The Surgeon General Dr.Murthy said, and I quote, “As Surgeon General, I encourage all Americans to make choices that enable them to prevent illness and promote well-being. Community water fluoridation is one of the most practical, cost-effective, equitable, and safe measures communities can take to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health.”. In communities that have water fluoridation, there are 25% fewer caries and our children today have 3 times fewer caries as compared to the children in the era before community water fluoridation.
    Unfortunately, anti-flouridationist have been using the internet and social media very efficiently to spread their false claim, and they have been more effective in that than the dental and public health community. More than one-third of American adults use the internet to get their health information, and 62% of U.S adult get their news from social media. The future of dental public and oral health education should be using these platforms to educate the public and work creatively to reach a larger audience.

  12. jay balzer says:

    many patients do not think about water fluoridation, and don’t know how important it is to improve their oral health. positive and truthful information they get from their dentist – a trusted professional – is an important way to shape public opinion in favor of community water fluoridation. better that patients learn about water fluoridation from their dentist, than from internet sources, many of which are inaccurate or outright misleading.

  13. Another great article by Dr. Allukian, science-based decision making is important for educating and thus empowering our communities. According to the ADA Fluoridation Facts, fluoridation of community water supplies is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay, backed up by 70 years of research and experience, showing that there is over 25% decrease in tooth decay in children as well as in adults, regardless of age, gender, race, religion or status. Water Fluoridation is a cost effective way to reduce healthcare disparity and it needs to be advocated for by both healthcare providers and general public.

  14. Manjinder Kaur says:

    social media is a powerful means to reach the public and promote fluoridation, despite the fact that anti-fluoridatoin activities always outnumbers pro-fluoridation websites. Since we cannot control the anti- fluoridation activities on social media. Only effective and best way to educate the patients and public about the health benefits of fluroide is to guide them on regular basis with proven scientific literature.

  15. Han Chao Shi says:

    Two of the most common problems afflicting dental patients are lack of information and the spread of misinformation regarding the safety and importance of water fluoridation. However, this problem is due to a common belief that having the freedom of choice means having the right choice. Much akin to the vaccination epidemic today, the spread of misinformation has led many people to erroneously believe that because a choice exists to say “no”, that it can potentially be the correct choice to make. To correct this misconception requires scientifically-backed proof that water fluoridation is important to preventing tooth decay in our communities.

  16. Prathyusha Chava says:

    The internet has become a significant source for promoting health information, whether it be right or wrong or even evidence-based. People don’t notice the absence of cavities or lack of pain, but they do see it’s presence. That is why it is essential to emphasize to patients how fluoridated water in their community helps prevent dental caries focussing on positive outcomes. Involvement of health professionals to promote fluoridation at a community level is a convenient, cost-effective, and efficient way to reach out to the public.

  17. Liz Powell says:

    This is an excellent article! I strongly agree that dental providers must educate their patients about community water fluoridation. We should actively encourage patients to understand its protective effects against dental caries. As clinicians, its our duty to dispel the myths with science based facts.

  18. Great article. Thank you, Dr. Allukian, for emphasizing the need to educate the masses regarding community water fluoridation. This will definitely have a great impact.

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