Many Calgarians have benefited from the effects of fluoride in our water with fewer dental fees and tooth decay in our adult life. It is now time to pay it forward to the next generation. Nine years ago, our city moved to remove fluoride from our water system against the public’s wishes, two plebiscites have already been held and not honoured. Twice now, Calgarians have voted to reinstate fluoride and our government has blatantly ignored us.
Fluoride at the therapeutic level helps bridge the gap in health inequities by lessening dental fees not covered under health insurance, allowing those who are unable to pay hefty fees peace of mind that there is a public measure in place helping their kids fight tooth decay. Many kids are unable to tell the difference between a cavity and therefore go long periods without any help and early action. This results in more complicated dental procedures with greater fines, and sometimes even brain and nerve damage as some individuals have no way of paying out-of-pocket.
Unfortunately, I did not have the privilege of growing up with fluoride in my water system. I moved to Canada from Pakistan in 2007. I first lived in London, Ontario, and moved to Calgary in 2012. I experienced a lot of cavities when I was young with my baby teeth, and later into my adult life. I am now 20 years old and have had two root canals and almost 20 fillings. I have always maintained a healthy diet and limited my sugar intake, yet I still receive news each year that I have a filling I need to take care of.
Fluoridation in my water system when I was a developing child would have helped me avoid these procedures and the associated financial burden. I am now being told that, statistically because I have experienced so many fillings at such a young age, that my teeth will not be as strong in old age and I most likely will not be able to eat hard foods. As you can imagine this is very sad to hear for someone who is only 20. However, I am even more motivated to fight for fluoride reinstatement so that our future generation and my future kids won’t suffer as I did.
Fluoride reinstatement and dental decay are serious public health issues that require immediate attention and is an issue that Calgarians can make an effective change for by getting out to vote on Oct. 18. The problem is that not many are aware of this plebiscite due to a compounding number of elections simultaneously being held in the fall. Therefore, I urge you to please help me bring attention to this issue and the cause posed by the Fluoride: Pay It Forward group.
—Duaa Fatima, a third-year student at the University of Calgary
Letters to the Editor published in the Gauntlet‘s opinion section do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board. The Gauntlet retains the right to edit submissions for brevity and clarity.