Cavities (tooth decay) are the most common chronic disease among American children and adolescents. It is five times more prevalent than asthma.
In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan made history as the first U.S. city to combat cavities by fluoridating its public water supplies. Water fluoridation prevents tooth decay by providing frequent and consistent contact with low levels of fluoride. By keeping the tooth surface strong, fluoride stops cavities from forming. Even before the 15-year study was complete, the results were clear: Compared to children born before the study started, those who were born after had 60% fewer cavities. In fact, CWF is now considered one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the past 100 years.
Jurisdictions across the country followed Grand Rapids’ lead, and now almost three-quarters of U.S. residents on public water systems benefit from fluoridated water.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children living in communities with fluoridated water have about 25% fewer cavities than children in communities without fluoridation. With rising health care costs, community water fluoridation is a cost-effective intervention to prevent oral health complications for people of all backgrounds, regardless of age, education, or income levels. And the benefits are long-lasting: A recent study found young children who consumed fluoridated water were still benefiting from this as adults in their 40s and 50s.
At a time when more than 100 million Americans lack dental insurance, fluoridation offers an easy, inexpensive preventive strategy that everyone benefits from simply by turning on their tap (Source: National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).
The Virginia Board of Health recommends that all public water systems in Virginia be optimally fluoridated. The Town of Fries and the City of Lynchburg were the first communities to begin water fluoridation in Virginia back in 1952. Now, nearly 6.7 million Virginians benefit from receiving optimally fluoridated drinking water. Over 96% of all Virginians served by community water in Virginia benefit from community water fluoridation. In fact, our state is ranked #7 in the nation for the number of citizens on public water that have access to this public health intervention.
Virginia’s Community Water Fluoridation Program strives to maintain this percentage, as well as to maintain strong partnerships in the waterworks and health professional communities. Presentations at local, state and national conferences, trainings, and local meetings reach hundreds of water operators and health providers each year. Intensive, two-day hands-on trainings, conference presentations, and local government meetings foster appreciation of water fluoridation. We review current CWF study findings, the effectiveness and safety of CWF, and the vulnerability of the practice. The health benefits and safety of fluoridation are well documented over the past 75 years, but misinformation on the internet perpetuates local challenges to CWF and may threaten this public health practice at the community level.
Click on the links to the left to learn more about One of the Top Ten Public Health Interventions of the 20th Century!
Topic: Safety, Effectiveness, and Vulnerable Status of Water Fluoridation
Target Audience: Health professionals, Oral Health professionals, General public
How is the training provided? Presentation
Contact Information: Jeanette Bowman, Community Water Fluoridation Coordinator