Community Water Fluoridation Now Reaches Nearly Two-thirds of U.S.
Population on Public Water Systems
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
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 20th Century. Recent
estimates of effectiveness indicate that water fluoridation reduces tooth
decay among children by 18 percent to 40 percent. 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
The importance of fluoridation for reducing tooth decay was highlighted
in the first Surgeon Generalís report on oral health issued in May 2000,
and further reinforced in a December 2001 statement by U.S. Surgeon General
David Satcher in which he said: "Water fluoridation has helped improve
the quality of life in the United States through reduced pain and suffering
related to tooth decay, reduced time lost from school and work, and less
money spent to restore, remove, or replace decayed teeth."
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 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 CDCís 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."