Bulletin of Dental Education

ADEA Launches Interactive Infographic on Community Water Fluoridation

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This year marks the 75th anniversary of a significant public health success story—community water fluoridation. To celebrate this event, ADEA released a new interactive infographic with talking points, stats and ADEA’s position on this achievement and its impact on oral health. See more at adea.org/waterfluoridation.  

Community water fluoridation is one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. National efforts of community water fluoridation prevent oral diseases, deliver health care savings and reduce oral health disparities. ADEA strongly supports optimal fluoridation of community water.

Water fluoridation has benefited communities across the United States. Approximately 73% of the U.S. population is served by fluoridated community water systems. Rates vary by state and ADEA members can access state-level figures in the interactive map part of the newly created infographic.

Fluoridated water prevents oral diseases. Since the introduction of community water fluoridation, the United States has seen a significant drop in in tooth decay rates. Specifically, research has showcased a 25% reduction of tooth decay in both children and adults. Fluoridated water benefits children and adults throughout their lives. 

Further, community water fluoridation delivers health care savings. Because of water fluoridation, U.S. populations with access to optimally fluoridated water systems that serve more than 1,000 people benefit from $6.5 billion in annual net savings. If the remaining public water systems in the United States would fluoridate, they would deliver to the serviced population another $2.5 billion in health care savings because of reductions in tooth decay. Overall, community water fluoridation delivers $32 dollars in savings per capita due to lower rates of tooth decay for low per-capita annual costs ranging from $0.11 to $24.38.

Community water fluoridation reduces oral health disparities. Children experience less tooth decay in counties where at least 75% of the population is being served by fluoridated water. The impact of water fluoridation exposure on reducing tooth decay is larger for lower income individuals. Tooth decay is experienced uneven across population groups. Tooth decay disparities are greatest among Mexican-American and African-American children aged 3−9 years. Adults aged 35-44 years with less than a high school education are three times more likely to experience tooth decay.

ADEA strongly supports optimal fluoridation of community water, currently set at 0.7 mg/liter. Dental education plays a critical role in raising awareness of water fluoridation, discussing water fluoridation with school-based clinic patients and ensuring graduates are competent in promoting its benefits among dental school-based clinics. 

To learn more about community water fluoridation, ADEA has compiled a list of resources that are accessible here.

For more information, please contact Omar A. Escontrías, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., ADEA Senior Director of Policy Research at EscontriasO@adea.org.

Published on November 11, 2020

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