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Be Vigilant in Maintaining Good Oral Health, Reduce Risk of Dental Decay

May 07, 2014
It is no secret that I have been an outspoken advocate for good oral health in Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka. We know from our work checking the teeth of children that Simcoe Muskoka has higher rates of tooth decay than most other areas of the province.

Simcoe Muskoka Medical Officer of Health column
By Dr. Charles Gardner

It is no secret that I have been an outspoken advocate for good oral health in Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka. We know from our work checking the teeth of children that Simcoe Muskoka has higher rates of tooth decay than most other areas of the province.

Having healthy teeth is important for child development, school performance, self-esteem, quality of life, and general health and wellbeing. Thousands of lower income children and adults access our dental services each year to deal with considerable pain and suffering.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is first and foremost dedicated to the prevention of disease, which includes the prevention of dental decay. For many, the risk of dental decay can be reduced through healthy nutrition, good oral hygiene and preventive dental services. However, lower income adults and their children may have reduced access to nutritious foods and dental services.

Given the high rates of dental decay in Simcoe Muskoka and the very real oral health challenges faced by low-income children and adults, community water fluoridation is safe, effective, and by far the most affordable means of reducing cavities.  It costs on average only one dollar per person per year while reducing cavities by 20 to 40 per cent.

Under provincial legislation, the decision to fluoridate municipal water rests with municipal councils. The Board of Health for the health unit advises our municipalities to fluoridate their water, and also advises the provincial government to support this through funding and regulation.

However, the decision by the council for New Tecumseth to discontinue water fluoridation means that all of Simcoe County (with the exception of Base Borden) now lacks fluoridated water. Similarly in Muskoka, the councils of Huntsville and the Township of Lake of Bays decided earlier this year to discontinue water fluoridation.  The good news is that the other four municipalities – Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, the Township of Georgian Bay and the Township of Muskoka Lakes – decided to continue providing their residents with the oral health benefits of fluoridated water.

It is important that everyone in Simcoe Muskoka practices good oral health, which includes healthy nutrition, frequent brushing and flossing, and regular dental checkups. However, those living in communities without water fluoridation will need to be vigilant with these practices as they do not have the benefit of fluoride in their drinking water.

For more information about your oral health or the oral health programs offered by the health unit, call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter, or visit simcoemuskokahealth.org.

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Dr. Gardner is Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health.


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