So the situation is that San Jose is the largest city in the nation without fluoride in the water. The situation is also that 1/3 of San Jose’s kindergarteners has untreated tooth decay. How do you think it feels trying to go to school and learn – for the first time – with a toothache?
I cannot relate. I’m 41 years old had have never had a cavity. My dentist, Dr. Sera, says I have the most perfect teeth she’s ever seen. She’s not met my brother, who has also never had a filling. Before you think we’re genetic freaks, I’ll tell you our parents’ mouths are the dental equivalent to the opening battle scene in Saving Private Ryan.
The difference, of course, is fluoride; my parents didn’t have it and my brother and I did. Now, County Supervisor Liz Kniss is joining The Health Trust in fighting to fluoridate San Jose’s water. Why the need for a fight? Because there are still loonies afoot who think that “letting the Government put things in the water supply” leads to mind control or something. No, that’s what reality TV is for.
Seriously for a second – scientists and dentists and public health officers don’t debate this – fluoride is fantastic…yet opposition continues. Why, just this week in the Mercury News, responding to their editorial on fluoride, one guy quoted a British physician: “No physician in his right senses would prescribe for a person he has never met, whose medical history he does not know, a substance which is intended to create bodily change, with the advice: ‘Take as much as you like, but you will take it for the rest of your life because some children suffer from tooth decay.”
WRONG! Sorry dude, but doctors thankfully do this all the time. They prescribe Vitamin B12 for vegans, iron for women and folic acid for women of childbearing years. Breast milk for infants. They push vitamin C, and leafy greens, and a good balance of protein and carbs. They do this for everyone, because it’s good for pretty much everyone.
Sorry for the rant, but this whole thing is just silly. And tragic. I love San Jose, but I’m thankful I was raised a few miles to the north and have great teeth to show for it. All kids deserve that, and the cost to fluoridate SJ’s water would be more than offset by keeping kids in school, ready to learn, without the pain of a bad tooth.
Do you disagree? Feel free to let me know. If you want to help, please consider a gift this month to the VMC Foundation…and I’ll make you a deal: Join us, and we’ll help fight the cavity creeps together.
By Dr. Marty Fenstersheib and Dr. Sara Cody
Special to the Mercury News
Lately, there’s been a lot of alarming news about the national outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium and people getting sick because of eating certain peanut butter and peanut-butter products. The recent recall of cookie dough products affected 13 schools in Santa Clara County. This outbreak is a reminder of the critical role our Public Health Department plays in protecting the health and safety of Santa Clara County’s 1.8 million residents.
Consider for instance the single mom with two boys, frustrated by their weekly asthma attacks and visits to VMC. They know darned well that it’s mold in their apartment walls that’s causing the asthma, yet her landlord wont’ do anything about it…even after their VMC pediatrician wrote a letter and left voice messages. Can you imagine how that feels?
Now, imagine that landlord getting a letter not from a doctor, but from an attorney, representing the two boys! This has proven time and again to get results, and so here’s what we’re launching at VMC: Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY) has teamed up with the VMC Foundation and First 5, along with some prominent families in Silicon Valley, to start a “Medical Legal Partnership Clinic.”
Beginning today, an attorney will be available on-site at VMC’s pediatric clinic to help families solve problems as only lawyers can. Issues of custody, tenant;s rights, teen motherhood and more will be addressed immediately, and these issues so often have medical implications.
Medical Legal Partnerships have been around for a while, but ours is the first in the nation at a “county/public” medical center…which is ironic, since many of VMC’s patients deal with these kinds of issues all the time…and for too many, they often feel under-represented; that nobody has their back. Well, not anymore – not with this new initiative.
Huge thanks are in order, from Jolene at First 5, to VMC’s LeeAnna Botkin, M.D., to Jennifer Kelleher at LACY, and Steve Harris, M.D., the chair of VMC’s Pediatrics…and let’s not forget Santa Clara County’s Board of Supervisors who continue approving innovative programs like this one.
The results of our Medical Legal Partnership Clinic won’t be known for a while, but they have a long history of success. We’re pretty sure that, in the case I opened with, that landlord will make some repairs, and the boys’ asthma will subside. That means better health for them, fewer missed days at school, and fewer visits to the doctor. Good for the kids, the family, VMC, and our whole community.
Now – who needs a good lawyer?