Key Vote Tomorrow in New Beford on Oral Health
While it’s not getting statewide notice, there’s a key ballot initiative at stake tomorrow in New Bedford. The issue is fluoridation of the community water supply and it’s Question 4 on the ballot. We’ll be watching and crossing our fingers for a strong “yes.” Click here for the New Bedford Standard Times editorial endorsing a yes vote on Q4.
Fluoridation is essential to improving community health because of the link between oral health and overall health. Children with poor oral health have trouble concentrating in school. As adults, chronic oral infections lead to missed work opportunities and are associated with heart and lung disease, diabetes, stroke and premature births.
New Bedford voters will decide whether to improve their community’s oral health. Adding fluoride to the public water supply is safe and improves everyone’s health. The US Centers for Disease Control considers fluoridation one of the top ten public health measures of all time along with pasteurization and water purification.
New Bedford’s vote has been years in the making. During the 1990’s, People Acting in Community Endeavors (PACE), a local anti-poverty agency, found residents were concerned about oral health. PACE asked the Board of Health to order fluoridation. The Board voted to fluoridate and when no petition was filed after the mandatory 90-day waiting period, the city moved forward.
The city’s fluoridation equipment was upgraded and in 2005 the Dept. of Environmental Protection approved New Bedford’s system. At this time, New Bedford’s mayor was leaving office. The Board of Health decided to wait for the new mayor before implementing fluoridation. The new mayor decided to delay implementation. Then, a home rule petition was approved by the Legislature allowing residents to vote in a binding referendum on fluoridation. PACE, HCFA’s Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce, the Massachusetts Dental Society, the Massachusetts Coalition for Oral Health and many others have joined together to educate residents about the safety and benefits of fluoridation and to urge them to vote in favor of implementation.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a YES vote.
Written by HCFA’s Jaime Corliss