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February 22, 2002
Contact: Linda S. Orgain, MPH
(770) 488-5301
Mary Kay Sones
(770) 488-5131
CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention
and Health Promotion

MMWR Press Release

Community water fluoridation now reaches nearly two-thirds of U.S. population

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. residents who receive water from public water systems now receive fluoridated water, according to an article released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The article, "Populations Receiving Optimally Fluoridated Public Drinking Water -- United States, 2000," provides the most recent information on the status of water fluoridation by state. Between 1992 and 2000, the percent of the U.S. population receiving fluoridated water increased from 62.1 percent to 65.8 percent, bringing the total U.S. population receiving fluoridated water to approximately 162 million.

Fluoride, a naturally occurring element in the environment, is known to be effective in preventing tooth decay in children and adults. Over the past several decades, fluoridation has played an important role in the dramatic reduction of tooth decay and has been identified by CDC as one of
the 10 greatest public health achievements in the twentieth century. However, tooth decay remains the most prevalent chronic infectious disease of childhood; 80 percent of all children have had dental decay by the time they are 18 years of age. Recent estimates of effectiveness indicate that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay among children by 18 percent to 40 percent.

The importance of fluoridation for reducing tooth decay was highlighted in the first Surgeon General's report on oral health ( issued in May 2000.

The Healthy People 2010 national health initiative set an objective for 75 percent of the U.S. population on public water systems to receive fluoridated water. Between 1992 and 2000, five additional states (Delaware, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska and Virginia) achieved the Healthy People objective, and Oklahoma was close (74.6 percent) to achieving this goal. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have now met this objective. State-specific percentages range from 2 percent to 100 percent of persons on public water systems that receive optimally fluoridated water.

"Water fluoridation is the most equitable and cost-effective means we have of delivering fluoride to all members of most communities," said Dr. William R. Maas, director of CDC's Oral Health Program. "While several states, such as California, New Hampshire and Nevada have made substantial progress, there is considerable need as well as opportunity for additional improvement, particularly in the 24 states that have not yet met the objective of having at least 75 percent of their populations on public water systems receiving fluoridated water."

The fluoridation update appears in today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which can be viewed or downloaded at
. Other information on fluoridation and oral health is available on-line through the oral health web site: or by calling 770-488-5131 or 770-488-6054.

CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.

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This page last updated February 21, 2002

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