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Action for Dental Health

Community Water Fluoridation

Why We Need Community Water Fluoridation

Community water fluoridation is a public health tool that benefits the entire community by providing affordable access to prevent tooth decay. It has been proven safe and effective for more than 70 years and was listed as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While easy access to community fluoridation has proven benefits, there are many reasons why communities may not choose to fluoridate their water, including misinformation and myths about current programs, and challenges ensuring their water is optimally fluoridated once a program is established.

Action for Dental Health advocates for fluoridation based on evidence of efficacy and cost effectiveness to bring the population receiving optimally fluoridated water to 80% by 2020.

Video: Why Fluoride In Your Tap Water Is a Good Thing


Cost Benefit

Community water fluoridation programs are one of the most cost-effective tools to reduce tooth decay and puts the emphasis on prevention versus costlier dental treatment.

  • The cost of a lifetime of water fluoridation for one person is less than the cost of one filling; however, the real cost benefit of fluoridation is the savings that can be realized by the healthcare system by preventing tooth decay rather than treating it.
  • Community water fluoridation is cost-saving, even for small communities. The return on investment for community water fluoridation varies with size of the community, and in general, increases as the community size increases.

That's why the ADA and state dental associations are working with state and local governments to extend the proven health benefits of community water fluoridation to the greatest possible number of people.

Safe and Effective

Echoing the endorsements of former Surgeons General, in 2016 Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy stated, "Water fluoridation is the best method for delivering fluoride to all members of the community, regardless of age, education, income level or access to routine dental care. Fluoride's effectiveness in preventing tooth decay extends throughout one's life, resulting in fewer - and less severe - cavities. In fact, each generation born over the past 70 years has enjoyed better dental health than the one before it. That's the very essence of the American Promise". 

More than 70 years of scientific research has consistently shown that an optimal level of fluoride in community water is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay by at least 25% in both children and adults. Simply by drinking water, Americans can benefit from fluoride's cavity protection whether they are at home, work or school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Tools for Local Advocacy

Action for Dental Health works with communities to increase access to water fluoridation via state and local support for dentists advocating for these services. 

  • ADA's Action for Dental Health prepares local dentists for meetings with decision makers and provides them with the necessary tools and information to guide the discussion.
  • The ADA joins with other leading health organizations, like the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, to support community water fluoridation.

Additional Resources

For more information on community water fluoridation, please visit Fluoride in Water.

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