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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Kentucky dentists expect more child tooth decay if "opt out" fluoride bill passes

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Monday, March 4, 2024   

A bill moving through the Kentucky Legislature would make fluoride treatment in drinking water optional for local municipalities.

House Bill 141 would remove a mandate that currently requires Kentucky towns with three thousand or more residents to add fluoride to their drinking water.

Health advocacy groups and even some dental insurers have voiced opposition to the legislation.

Whitney Dietz is a dentist with practices in Davis and McCracken counties. She said she expects tooth-decay rates to rise tremendously, particularly among children, if the bill becomes law.

"We see maybe three cavity events per child if there's no fluoride," said Dietz. "It's about eight cavity events per child, in one study. So, when I heard that our state government was considering making this optional, I was flabbergasted. I was absolutely shocked."

The bill's supporters, including co-sponsor state Rep. William Lawrence - R-Maysville - have called fluoride, quote, "forced medication."

They argue the legislation aims to give local governments the ability to choose whether or not to fluoridate the water supply.

Dietz said, post-pandemic, the number of pediatric dental providers in the state has dwindled - and challenges in dental health providers' ability to participate in Medicaid and Medicare have worsened the problem.

She said she regularly reviews charts for hundreds of kids doing volunteer work in communities and schools.

"I'm seeing kids with bombed-out non-restorable permanent molars," said Dietz, "kids that are in pain, kids that have abscesses."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, community water fluoridation has saved states an estimated $6.5 billion a year by reducing dental treatment costs - including tooth restorations and extractions, and indirect economic losses, such as loss of worker productivity.




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