The Canadian Paediatric Society recently published a report about oral health in very young children. It states that Indigenous children in Canada are disproportionately affected by not having water fluoridation in their communities.
As the new Governor General is sworn into office, bringing her Inuit heritage and understandings of the North to the role, a positive era is beginning. We can help by focussing on improving water systems to support those facing health challenges.
And those health challenges are severe. The disparity in community water fluoridation is extreme with only 2.3% of First Nations people having access to fluoridated water compared to approximately 39% of the general population. The result is a higher rate of cavities in young children.
Part of the problem of access to water fluoridation is that Indigenous Canadians disproportionately live in rural and remote communities. But that fact should no longer be an impediment to receiving water that is treated to help prevent dental decay. The US Centers for Disease Control has fostered the innovation of a new fluoridation delivery method – by tablets – for such communities.
Fluoridation is important for all Canadians, no matter where they live. The Canadian Pediatric Society reports that “all major Canadian and American dental and paediatric societies endorse the use of fluorides as safe and effective for caries prevention,” and that “community water fluoridation is safe, effective, and inexpensive.”
Federal and Provincial governments have an opportunity to address the severe inequity by helping to promote the oral health of Indigenous communities across Canada.
In its final recommendations in the report, the Canadian Paediatric Society calls on the governments and health services to “ensure that Indigenous communities benefit from community water fluoridation and know the fluoridation level of their water supply.”
It is our duty to help advance the health of Indigenous Peoples and their communities.
We can start in Calgary by reinstating water fluoridation, so that all people, including Indigenous people who live in Calgary or in surrounding areas that receive Calgary water, can benefit by this proven and safe public health measure.
Vote YES to fluoridation on October 18.
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