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June 29, 2000–The American Dental Association has endorsed fluoridation of community water supplies as safe and effective for preventing tooth decay for more than 40 years. Fluoride is nature's cavity fighter, occurring naturally in the earth's crust, in combination with other minerals in rocks and soil. Small amounts of fluoride occur naturally in all water sources, and varying amounts of the mineral are found in all foods and beverages. Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the natural level of fluoride to a concentration sufficient to protect against tooth decay, a range of from 0.7 parts per million to 1.2 ppm.

"Water fluoridation has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th Century," said ADA President Richard F. Mascola, D.D.S. "Fluoride's benefits are particularly important for those Americans, especially children, who lack adequate access to dental care. It is safe, effective and by far the best bang for the nation's public health buck."

Thanks in large part to community water fluoridation, half of all children ages 5 to 17 have never had a cavity in their permanent teeth. According to the April 2000 Journal of Dental Research, the use of fluoride in the past 40 years has been the primary factor in saving some $40 billion in oral health care costs in the United States.

In addition to the ADA, nearly 100 national and international organizations recognize the public health benefits of community water fluoridation for preventing dental decay. They include the World Health Organization, the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the International Association for Dental Research, the National PTA and the American Cancer Society. And just last month, Surgeon General David Satcher wrote in his report, Oral Health in America, "Community water fluoridation is safe and effective in preventing dental caries in both children and adults. Water fluoridation benefits all residents served by community water supplies regardless of their social or economic status."

Unfortunately, despite overwhelming evidence of fluoridation's safety and efficacy, more than 100 million Americans still do not benefit from fluoridated water. The ADA, along with state and local dental societies, continues to work with federal, state and local agencies to increase the number of communities that benefit from community water fluoridation.

The ADA's policies regarding community water fluoridation are based on generally accepted scientific knowledge. This body of knowledge is based on the efforts of nationally recognized scientists who have conducted research using the scientific method, have drawn appropriate balanced conclusions based on their research findings and have published their results in refereed (peer-reviewed) professional journals that are widely held or circulated. Confirmation of scientific findings also reinforces the validity of existing studies.

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Page Updated: June 05, 2002