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Surgeon General's Statement on Community Water Fluoridation, 1995

Since the 1950s, each U.S. Public Health Service Surgeon General has committed his or her support for community water fluoridation. Below is the most recent endorsement supporting community water fluoridation from
Acting Surgeon General, Audrey F. Manley, MD, PhD.

December 14, 1995—Nineteen ninety-five marked the 50th anniversary of the initiation of community water fluoridation in the United States. Data consistently have indicated that water fluoridation is the most cost-effective, practical, and safe means for reducing the occurrence of tooth decay in a community. Water fluoridation continues to be the cornerstone of community oral disease prevention. The benefits of fluoridation are available, on average, for little more than $0.50 per person per year, and even less, in large communities. Today, 62 percent of the population served by public water supplies have access to adequate levels of fluoride in their drinking water. It has been demonstrated that the action of fluoride in preventing tooth decay provides a benefit to children and adults throughout their lives. The health benefits of fluoridation include a reduction in the frequency and severity of dental decay, a decrease in the need for tooth extractions and fillings, a reduction in pain and suffering associated with tooth decay, and the obvious elevation of self-esteem that goes with improved functioning and appearance.

As we look ahead to the next century, we can be thankful for the progress that has been made in improving the nation's oral health, but we can not be complacent. Although the ravages of dental decay have decreased in recent years, there still remains a large segment of the population afflicted by this disease. Ongoing efforts to reduce the burden of dental decay in our population are required, particularly for those groups demonstrated to be at higher risk of dental decay or with inadequate access to professional dental care. Continuing attention to assuring the quality of fluoridation activities by water suppliers and state and local health authorities is essential. Ultimately, optimizing the public's oral health through community water fluoridation will require a concerted effort by public officials, health professionals, and the public.

Audrey F. Manley, MD, MPH
Acting Surgeon General