Fluoride in water

Facts, resources and advocacy for fluoridation as a proven way to prevent tooth decay.
The premier ADA guide to fluoridation, available in print and electronic formats.
Videos, articles and public policy statements on fluoridation and oral health.
The latest evidence-based guidelines on topical fluoride products, toothpastes and more.
Science-based answers to common questions about fluoride in water.
Facts on new fluoridation systems, overall health effects and more.

More about fluoridation and oral health

Why is fluoride in water?

Fluoride is added to water to help prevent tooth decay. Many communities add fluoride to their water supply for five key reasons:

  1. It prevents tooth decay. Fluoride in water is the most efficient way to prevent cavities, one of the most common childhood diseases. An estimated 51 million school hours and 164 million work hours are lost each year due to dental-related illness. Community water fluoridation is so effective at preventing tooth decay that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named it one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
  2. It protects all ages against cavities. Studies show that fluoride in community water systems prevents at least 25 percent of tooth decay in children and adults, even with widespread public access to fluoride from other sources such as fluoride toothpaste.
  3. It’s safe and effective. For more than 75 years, the best scientific evidence has consistently shown that fluoridation is safe and effective. It has been endorsed by numerous U.S. Surgeons General. More than 100 health organizations have joined the ADA in recognizing the health benefits of water fluoridation for preventing tooth decay, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  4. It saves money. The average lifetime cost per person to fluoridate a water supply is less than the cost of just one dental filling. For most municipalities, every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment costs.
  5. It’s natural. Fluoride is naturally present in groundwater and the oceans. Water fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride to a recommended level for preventing tooth decay. It’s similar to fortifying other foods and beverages — for example, fortifying salt with iodine, milk with vitamin D, orange juice with calcium and bread with folic acid.
ADA policy on fluoridation

The American Dental Association unreservedly endorses the fluoridation of community water supplies as safe, effective and necessary in preventing tooth decay. View our fluoridation policy here.

ADA advocacy for fluoridation

The ADA actively advocates for the fluoridation of public water supplies as an effective way to prevent tooth decay and promote oral health. Learn more about our fluoridation advocacy efforts here.