The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls community water fluoridation one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th Century for its proven effectiveness at reducing the occurrence and severity of tooth decay. Since 1945, when Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first community water system to fluoridate its water, thousands of communities have benefited from the practice of adjusting natural fluoride levels in their water supply to optimal levels recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service.Arlington has been adding fluoride to its water since 1968. Fluoride levels in Arlington’s water are reported each year in its Consumer Confidence Report, which is available here: www.arlingtontx.gov/water/ccr.
Below are some important facts for residents to know about water fluoridation.
- Public health researchers estimate that the spread of community water fluoridation can be credited with a 25 percent reduction in tooth decay, even as other forms of fluoride, such as mouthwash or toothpaste, intake increased. Those results translate into reductions in suffering from dental pain, school absences and poorer school performance, studies show.
- A 2014 study reported that 75 percent of people in the U.S. who were served by community water systems, more than 211 million people, had fluoridated water. That number is 66 percent of the entire U.S. population. In Texas, 2014 statistics show 79 percent of the 24.8 million residents who receive their water from community water systems were provided fluoridated water. Because of its value to public health, the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion included fluoridation in its Healthy People 2020 report, setting a goal of having 80 percent of people served by community water systems receiving fluoridated water by 2020.
- Community water system fluoridation also remains a cost-effective way to reach residents who need its benefits, regardless of age or socio-economic status. A study from the National Association of Local Boards of Health estimates the cost of fluoridation for large water systems such as Arlington to be about $1 per person annually. A CDC study also shows for every $1 spent on fluoridation, communities save at least $38 annually in tooth decay treatment.
- The list of prestigious institutions endorsing community water fluoridation is long. In addition to the CDC, it includes the U.S. Surgeons General, American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization. Scientific research into water fluoridation has continued as its prevalence has increased through the years.
- The chemicals used in community water fluoridation must meet the National Sanitation Foundation (“NSF”)/American National Standards Institute (“ANSI”) Standard 60. Standard 60 requires that no additive to water increase the level of regulated impurities by more than 10 percent of the maximum contaminant level set by the EPA. These national standards, which set health effects criteria for water treatment chemicals, are developed by scientists, industry experts and key industry stakeholders. USEPA sets drinking water standards, so any chemical addition to the water must not degrade the water so it does not meet the federal standards.
- For more information about community water fluoridation, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website at https://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/index.html or the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Campaign for Dental Health website at https://ilikemyteeth.org/
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Association of Local Boards of Health, U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.