Community water fluoridation is widely recognized as one of the most equitable, safe and cost-effective steps cities can take to prevent tooth decay. Unfortunately, widespread misinformation has caused some people to doubt the safety and efficacy of fluoride in the water supply. Here’s what you should know about the benefits of water fluoridation.
It helps to prevent tooth decay
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fluoridated water reduces tooth decay and cavities by about 25 percent in both children and adults. An estimated 164 million work hours and 51 million school hours are lost every year due to dental issues. Community water fluoridation is such an effective way to prevent tooth decay, the CDC named it one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the entire 20th century.
This is one big reason that community water fluoridation is highly recommended by nearly all medical, public health and dental organizations. It is also recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dental Association, World Health Organization, and US Public Health Service.
Fluoride is safe
For over 70 years, the best scientific evidence has shown that community water fluoridation is both effective and safe. Despite misinformation available on the internet, water fluoridation has not been shown to increase the risk of health problems in children or adults. Endorsed by several U.S. Surgeons General, community water fluoridation offers an impressive safety track record which has earned support from more than 100 health organizations, including the American Medical Association and the CDC.
It saves money
By preventing cavities and tooth decay, community water fluoridation saves money for families and the United States healthcare system. The median lifetime cost per individual to fluoridate an entire water supply is less than the cost of a single dental filling. According to the CDC, an economic review of multiple research studies found that savings for cities ranged from $1.10 to $135 for every $1 invested in community water fluoridation. The ADA reports that most cities save $38 in dental treatment costs for every $1 invested in water fluoridation.
It’s entirely natural
Naturally present in oceans and groundwater, fluoride has not been shown to negatively impact human health at controlled levels. Water fluoridation is similar to fortifying other foods and beverages with vitamins and minerals. Just as we fortify milk with vitamin D, salt with iodine, bread with folic acid and orange juice with calcium, we add fluoride to water to prevent illness and disease.
It’s safe for kids
Many people have heard that children can develop dental fluorosis if they consume too much fluoride while teeth are developing. While this is true, the issue does not typically occur due to community water fluoridation. Most often dental fluorosis develops because people receive too much fluoride from a total of all sources, such as children swallowing too much fluoridated toothpaste. This is why it’s important for parents to supervise their kids when they are brushing their teeth. Children should also use no more than a pea-sized portion of toothpaste while brushing.