Communities fluoridate their water supply because it is a cost-effective public health method that helps prevent cavities. The average cost per year for U.S. communities to fluoridate the water ranges from $.50 per person for large communities to $3.00 per person for small communities.
Cavities are caused by a disease called "caries," which is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hayfever in 5-to-17-year-olds. The pain from untreated cavities can cause people to lose sleep, have trouble eating, speaking and paying attention at school or work.
A report from the U.S. Surgeon General in 2000 estimated that 51 million school hours are lost per year because of dental-related illness. Without water fluoridation, that number would likely be much higher.
The American Dental Association (ADA) supports community water fluoridation as the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay. Even with the widespread use of fluoride-containing products such as toothpaste, studies show that in communities with fluoridated water, tooth decay is lower by at least 25 percent, compared to communities without community water fluoridation.
The ADA, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and many others support fluoridation of community water supplies. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has cited community water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century (along with vaccinations, infectious disease control and motor vehicle safety).
So, by simply drinking fluoridated water, you are doing something good for your oral health.