April 2-6 marks National Public Health Week and what better way to recognize this moment than to focus on what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lauded as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the last century: community water fluoridation.
The CDC includes community water fluoridation with such impactful 20th-century public health accomplishments as the control of infectious diseases, declining deaths from heart disease and stroke, smoking cessation, motor vehicle safety, food safety, and safer working conditions, underscoring how adding fluoride to water has helped reduce health disparities for millions of Americans.
In the United States, roughly 211 million Americans, 66 percent, have access to fluoridated drinking systems. About 46 percent, or 3.3 million people, receive fluoridated water in Washington state.
Water fluoridation provides numerous benefits for people of all ages and income levels. Below are five reasons why Oral Health Watch proudly supports community water fluoridation.
- Community water fluoridation has broad support from trusted, well-respected health and scientific organizations, including the American Dental Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. In fact, every major U.S. health organization stands behind water fluoridation as a proven public health measure for infants, children, adults and senior citizens.
- Community water fluoridation is a natural way to protect teeth. Fluoride is a mineral that exists in all water. This essential mineral joins with the surface the tooth to make teeth more resistant to the acid that causes tooth decay. Not all water is equally fluoridated. Community water fluoridation guarantees water has enough fluoride to fight cavities. Studies show that water fluoridation can cut tooth decay by 25 percent in a community. Tooth decay has declined dramatically in recent decades as fluoridated water has become widespread.
- Community water fluoridation is proven. Fluoride is one of the most researched public health measures. More than 70 years of research and practical application confirms that water fluoridation is essential. Cavities, once considered a rite of passage for all children, are not necessarily the case anymore. Adults also benefit from water fluoridation. A longitudinal study in Ireland found that adults living in areas with fluoridated water “were more likely to have maintained their natural teeth.”
- Community water fluoridation brings value to a community. For most water systems every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in future dental treatment costs for customers, reducing dental care costs for families, employers, taxpayers and the health care system. A recent study showed that treating children on state health insurance for cavities in a fluoridated community cost a third less – and the kids were healthier. Fluoridation is a common-sense health solution that improves quality of life for customers, saves state tax dollars, and relieves the pocketbook for parents and adults.
- Community water fluoridation improves health equity. It is “one of the most commonly provided local public goods in the United States,” benefiting people regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, income and education levels. Water fluoridation helps all people, but it is especially beneficial for underserved and lower-income populations where access to essential preventive oral health care can be limited.
To learn more about the benefits of water fluoridation and ready why dependable health and scientific organizations support this valuable public health tool, go here.