Since January of this year, 280 children have arrived at the Dentistry Department or Emergency Room of the Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) of the MUHC in pain because of dental caries or abscesses. These are emergency visits because the children are suffering. Of this number, 121 children (43%) are six years of age or younger.
“This is a deplorable situation,” says Dr. Harley Eisman, Director of Medical Emergencies at the MCH. “We are treating children in diapers whose teeth are completely rotten. And the sad part is it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Dr. Eisman was responding to the Montreal Coalition for Healthy Teeth, which yesterday filed a complaint against the city of Montreal, and the Quebec Ministry of Health for failure to add fluoride to the city’s water supply.
Children are effectively being denied proper health care,” says Dr. Eisman.“By not adding fluoride to the city’s water supply, Montreal officials are ignoring an urgent health situation.”
He pointed to a number of studies that confirm the importance of fluoridated water for dental health. A report written by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (Fluoration de l’eau: Analyse des bénéfices et des risques pour la santé avis scientifique (www.inspq.qc.ca.)
According to the results of the 1998-1999 Government of Quebec study on the oral health of Quebec students aged 5-6 and 7-8, Quebec kindergarten children had 40% more caries than their counterparts in Ontario and the United States. What is more, the results of an exploratory study carried out in 1998 in three underprivileged communities in the Montreal area showed that 50-70% of children in junior kindergarten had dental caries.
In 1991, the Département de santé communautaire de Gaspé did a comparison of communities where water is fluoridated and communities where water remains unfluoridated showing a reduced prevalence of dental caries in the range of 18-40% when fluoridation is used. A study done by the U-S Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in 2001 established the rate of caries reduction with fluoridated water at 25%.