Community water fluoridation is the controlled addition of a fluoride compound to a public water supply for the control of tooth decay (dental caries).
Fluoride has been proven to protect teeth from decay. It helps rebuild and strengthen the tooth surface (enamel) by replenishing minerals. It strengthens teeth that are still developing in young children, and helps prevent adult tooth decay as gums recede with age.
The MSDH Bureau of Public Water Supply regulates the fluoridation of community water systems that choose to provide it in order to provide early, long-lasting tooth decay prevention.
Benefits of Community Water Fluoridation
Prevents tooth decay
Fluoride in drinking water is an efficient way to prevent one of the most common childhood diseases — tooth decay. An estimated 51 million school hours and 164 million work hours are lost each year due to dental-related illness.
Protects all ages
Studies show that fluoride in community water systems prevents at least 25 percent of tooth decay in children and adults. Schoolchildren living in fluoridated communities have on average 2.25 fewer decayed teeth when compared to similar children not living in fluoridated communities.
Safe and effective
For over 80 years the best available scientific evidence has indicated that community water fluoridation is safe and effective. It has been endorsed by numerous U.S. Surgeons General. More than 100 health organizations recognize the health benefits of water fluoridation for preventing dental decay.
The average lifetime cost per person to fluoridate a water supply is less than the cost of one dental filling. In most cities, for every $1 invested in water fluoridation $38 is saved in dental treatment costs.
Fluoride is naturally present in groundwater and the oceans. Fluoride also occurs naturally in foods like vegetables and fish. Water fluoridation is an adjustment of fluoride in tap water to a recommended level for preventing tooth decay when natural levels of fluoride are too low.
The World Health Organization supports fluoridation of water, salt and milk as a way to reduce dental decay.