Oral health is integral to general health. Although preventable, tooth decay is a chronic disease affecting all age groups. In fact, it is the most common chronic disease of childhood. The burden of disease is far worse for those who have limited access to prevention and treatment services. Left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain, tooth loss, and even death. Among children, untreated decay has been associated with difficulty in eating, sleeping, learning and proper nutrition. Among adults, untreated decay and tooth loss can also have negative effects on an individual’s self-esteem and employability. 2 Community Water Fluoridation Prevents Tooth Decay
Fluoride in community drinking water, adjusted to a concentration of 0.7 parts per million3, continues to be a safe, inexpensive and extremely effective method of preventing tooth decay. 4
Community water fluoridation benefits everyone in the community, regardless of age and socioeconomic status.
Fluoridation provides protection against tooth decay in populations with limited access to prevention services.
For every dollar spent on community water fluoridation, up to $38 is saved in dental treatment cost .5
The Task Force on Community Preventive Services, a national independent, nonfederal, multidisciplinary task force appointed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently reviewed their systematic review of studies of community water fluoridation.They reconfirmed, in communities initiating fluoridation, the decrease in childhood decay was almost 30 percent over 3–12 years of follow-up.6Communities have fluoridated the water since 1945. In West Virginia water has been fluoridated since 1950.
State8 and National Healthy People 2020 Objectives9 and Progress
National HP Goal = 79.6% WV’s Current Status = 91.5%
Reduce by 10% adults 65-74 who have lost all their teeth
National HP Goal = 21.0% WV’s Current Status =37.8%
What is West Virginia doing to meet the goals?
West Virginia has: instituted an oral health surveillance system to guide the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs to prevent and control disease, implemented a standardized education curriculum, promoted inter-professional training with dental non-dental providers on appropriate fluoride supplement programs, maintained resources on well-water testing, recognized water systems maintaining optimal levels of fluoride, and utilized fluoride data from water systems.
Strategies for West Virginia’sFuture
Encourage fluoride supplements and/or fluoride treatments for those at increased risk for decay who are not receiving fluoridated drinking water, along with daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste morning and night.
Promote accurate, scientific information about fluoride.
Encourage the use of dental sealants and school-based dental disease prevention programs
Community Water Fluoridation is endorsed by the following organizations who support good oral health.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Community Water Fluoridation. Accessed Oct. 28.2013.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 2000. Accessed Oct. 28.2013.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Proposed HHS Recommendation for Fluoride Concentration in Drinking Water for Prevention of Dental Caries, Federal Register Volume 76, Number 9. January 13, 2011. Accessed Oct. 28.2013.
Kumar JV. Is water fluoridation still necessary? Adv Dent Res. 2008 Jul 1; 20(1):8-12. Accessed Oct. 28.2013
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cost Savings of Community Water Fluoridation, July 2013. Accessed Oct. 28.2013.
Department of Health and Human Services, The Community Preventive Services Task Force, The Guide to Community Preventive Services, Community Water Fluoridation, 28.2013. Accessed Oct. 28.2013.
Dye BA, Tan S, Smith V, Lewis BG, Barker LK, Thornton-Evans G, Eke PI, Beltrán-Aguilar ED, Horowitz AM, Li CH. Trends in oral health status: United States, 1988-1994 and 1999-2004. Vital Health Stat 11. 2007 Apr; (248):1-92 Accessed Oct. 28.2013 U.S.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy People 2020. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2010. Accessed Oct. 28.2013.
For more information, contact:
Dental Director or Program Manager: Jason M. Roush, DDS
Telephone: (304) 558-5388
Adapted from a fact sheet developed by the Oral Health Program, Bureau of Health, Maine Department of Human Services, 2004, in cooperation with the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors. Produced with support from CDC cooperative agreement #1U58DP004919-01 , #1U58DP004919-01 and Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration cooperative agreement # U44MC00177-04-02. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Photo credits: Mother and son at left, Andrea Schroll, RDH, BS, CHES, Illinois Department of Public Health; grandmother, mother, and daughter, Getty Images; water, Comstock Images.