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Coastal Voices: Keep fluoridation, save teeth

In my medical practice, I have patients from every walk of life ... from every kind of job, from every level of income, from every political leaning ... from every demographic group represented in Del Norte County.

I have learned to keep my social and political opinions to myself because my primary concern is to provide good and safe medical care to everyone, not to persuade someone that my opinion on an issue is somehow more valid simply because I’m a doctor.

However, sometimes issues arise about which I cannot remain silent. Sometimes I hear or read misinformation being circulated which I feel endangers my patients ... people with whom I have developed not only a professional but also a personal relationship over my 11 years of practice in this community, people who rely on me to watch out for them and their health. There are times when I must take a stand, whether or not it alienates a few of my “customers,” because simply it’s the right thing to do.

Flouridation of our water supply is one of these issues.

In over 20 years of medical practice, I have learned that it is sometimes difficult to communicate scientific studies to people who have not had years of experience at interpreting statistics.  Also, it is easy to mistrust mainstream medicine, which is littered with plenty of examples of drugs and therapies which initially seemed to be miraculous and then later were revealed to be flawed ... with side effects that often offset their benefits, or sometimes even turned out to be more harmful than the ills they were designed to treat.

However, modern medicine has also accomplished much to make our lives better. Surely there is no question that the discovery of antibiotics has saved countless millions of lives. Vaccines against diseases like polio have also saved lives and prevented the maiming of many others. Through preventive care like Pap smears and mammograms, we have markedly reduced the death rate from diseases like cervical cancer and breast cancer, and saved the lives of many wives and mothers.

Flouridation of public water supplies has been widely used for over 60 years and our city leaders in Crescent City were wise enough to add it to our own city water supply 40 years ago.  Dentists in our community can look at your teeth for a few minutes and tell with a fairly high degree of accuracy if you were raised on flouridated water or not ... it makes that much difference in the health of your teeth.

I have reviewed the scientific research which has been done over the past several decades on flouridation (there is a lot of it!) and virtually all of it confirms that flouridation is not only safe, but that it also greatly improves the quality of life of the people who have access to it.

Years ago, as a young medical student, I was trained to evaluate scientific research with a skeptical eye, to demand ample amounts of solid data and thorough analysis before recommending results to my patients. I can say without hesitation to you, my patients and my friends, that flouridation is safe and, equally important, it is also good for our health. 

Please don’t let our community take a step backward toward a less healthy time. Please don’t sacrifice our children’s future health because of a few possibly well-intentioned but clearly misguided fearmongers.

Please vote “no” on City Measure A on Nov. 2.

John Tynes is a local obstetrician/gynecologist.

 

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