Innovation in Fluoridation Technology Promises Improvements in Oral Health
With Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) SBIR Program support, KC Industries (KCI) has developed a fluoridation tablet and feeder system for water systems unable to use traditional fluoridation equipment due to cost or operation limitations. Typically small water systems serving rural communities have more resource and capability constraints. This innovative technology will offer tens of thousands of smaller public water systems the ability to provide the benefits of water fluoridation to communities in need.
Community water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the amount of fluoride found in water to achieve the optimal level for prevention of tooth decay. Drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong, reducing cavities by about 25% in children and adults. By preventing cavities, community water fluoridation has been shown to save money for families and for the US health care system. It is an equitable and effective way to deliver fluoride to all community members, regardless of age, education, or income.
Today, more than 34,000 community water systems in the United States do not provide fluoridated drinking water to their customers. About 35% of Americans do not have access to properly fluoridated water, either because they live in a home not served by a public water system or because their public water system potentially lacks the resources or size to make installing and maintaining robust fluoridation systems feasible. These systems were designed for larger communities and are not cost-efficient for small water systems, such as those that serve rural, disadvantaged populations with decreased access to health care providers. It is uncommon for conventional fluoridation technology to serve systems with fewer than 1,000 people, and economies of scale make fluoridation increasingly expensive as service populations fall below 5,000.
CDC has long recognized the need for a method that allows these smaller systems to optimally fluoridate water. CDC’s National Fluoridation Engineer Kip Duchon (retired) theorized that fluoridation systems could use tablets similar to those already widely used in other low-volume water treatment applications, such as swimming pool chlorination. Later, the CDC SBIR Program provided Phase I and Phase II awards to fund development of a pill or tablet that small water systems could use to provide fluoridated water. Learn more at SBIR Company Success Storiesexternal icon.
This research was supported by CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as Contracts 200-2014-M-60502 and 200-2015-87391. More information on the project can be found here: https://www.sbir.gov/sbirsearch/detail/703554external icon.