Major dental health organizations and players unite to fight Montreal's cavity crisis

Montreal, October 06, 2005 - A dozen major health and dental organizations gathered today at the Montreal Children's Hospital to show their support for Montreal's Coalition for Healthy Teeth and to put an end once and for all to the cavity crisis rife in Montreal. For the most part, these front-line professionals stood united to denounce the dental situation in the city. Together, they demanded that the City of Montreal come up with a collective and effective solution to the sudden surge in cavities in Montreal: Add fluoride to the drinking water.

"Our eating habits and lifestyle have changed dramatically, not to mention that poverty is constantly gaining ground, leaving us with no choice but to change how we tackle tooth decay. Today, we can't help but see the limitations of the public awareness and individual measures that were recommended over these past 15 years. Knowing that 35% of cavities go untreated in Montreal schoolchildren (kindergarten to Grade 3) and that a child (age 0 to 4) living in poverty is 112% more likely to have cavities, we are justified in demanding proven and universal solutions like fluoridation," indignantly exclaimed the President of Montreal's Coalition for Healthy Teeth, Dr. Stéphane Schwartz, who is also Director of the Montreal Children's Hospital dental clinic.

Johanne Côté, President of the Ordre des hygiénistes dentaires du Québec, remains just as convinced of the need for collective and effective cavity prevention measures: "We've noted, just like Montreal's Coalition for Healthy Teeth, that tooth decay is prevalent in Montreal youth, that too many children unjustifiably suffer from poor dental health, and that, despite 15 years of hard work, the individual, daily and methodical interventions by the public health system's dental hygienists in elementary schools just don't cut it anymore. We need reinforcements and fluoridation would be a huge help in our fight against tooth decay."

McGill University public health professor Dr. Christophe Bedos ranks fluoridation as a social justice measure. In his words, "Fluoridated water in Montreal is a social justice measure. I say social justice because fluoridation plays a major part in reducing inequalities (in terms of dental care) among different socio-economic groups. Fluoridation would allow all children to be equal in the fight against this serious disease: cavities. This social justice measure would help children all over Montreal, not just those in the West Island."

The Ordre des dentistes du Québec is standing behind the Coalition, demanding that water be fluoridated. Dr. Claude Lamarche, Vice-President of the Ordre, stated: "The Ordre supports fluoridating the municipalities' water according to the recommended efficiency standards. We consider it a sure and economical way to prevent tooth decay in people of all ages."

The Coalition's spokesperson brought things to a close by inviting Mayor Tremblay to act quickly and meet with Coalition members so a decision could be reached immediately about water fluoridation.

Montreal's Coalition for Healthy Teeth is an initiative of the Montreal Children's Hospital, with 1,000 individual members. Its objective to fluoridate Montreal's drinking water is endorsed by numerous major organizations, including the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec, Health Canada, the Association des pédiatres du Québec, the Ordre des dentistes du Québec, the Ordre des hygiénistes dentaires du Québec, the Collège des médecins du Québec, the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec, the World Health Organization, the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec and the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice, to name a few.


Éric Chalifoux
Montreal's Coalition for Healthy Teeth