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The effectiveness of water fluoridation has been documented in scientific literature for well over 65 years. Even before the first community fluoridation program began in 1945, data from the 1930s and 1940s revealed 50-60% lower tooth decay rates in children consuming naturally occurring, optimally fluoridated water compared to children consuming fluoride-deficient water. Since that time, numerous studies have been published making fluoridation one of the most widely studied public health measures in history. Studies prove water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by at least 25% in adults and children, even in an era with widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste.

In April 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proclaimed community water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. The list of achievements, which also includes vaccinations and control of infectious diseases, was developed to highlight significant contributions that impact the health and well being of the public. Additionally, in 2001, the CDC restated, “Community water fluoridation is a safe, effective and inexpensive way to prevent dental caries.” The CDC not only recommended continuation of fluoridation but also called for its adoption in additional U.S. communities.

In August 2002, the U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services concluded that the evidence for the effectiveness of fluoridation is strong based on the number and quality of studies that have been done, the magnitude of observed benefits and the consistency of the findings. The Task Force issued a strong recommendation that water fluoridation be included as part of a comprehensive population-based strategy to prevent or control tooth decay in communities.

The American Dental Association (ADA) continues to endorse fluoridation of community water supplies as safe and effective for preventing tooth decay. This support has been the Association’s position since policy was first adopted in 1950. Based on data for 2010, approximately 204 million people (two-thirds of the population) in the United States are served by public water systems that are fluoridated. The ADA, along with state and local dental societies, continues to work with federal, state, and local agencies to increase the number of communities benefiting from water fluoridation.

For more information regarding fluoride and fluoridation, visit the American Dental Association’s Fluoride and Fluoridation website.