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Rural Health Information Hub

Community Water Fluoridation Model

Community water fluoridation is a scientifically supported and cost-effective public health intervention to prevent tooth decay. Water fluoridation prevents tooth decay by ensuring that teeth have frequent contact with low levels of fluoride. Studies have shown that water fluoridation can reduce tooth decay by 25% over a person's lifetime.

One of the Healthy People 2030 oral health objectives is to increase the proportion of the U.S. population served by community water systems with optimally fluoridated water. Rural populations are less likely to have access to adequately fluoridated drinking water, in part because many depend on private wells for drinking water.

Implementation Considerations

The local community can become the driving force to promote fluoridation and oral health. Successful programs have active participation from professionals responsible for water policy as well as oral health professionals. Water fluoridation programs may encounter policy, technical, and logistical challenges. Common barriers to implementing water fluoridation in a community may include high initial start-up costs, lack of general knowledge of the benefits of fluoridation, and social acceptability.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a database called My Water's Fluoride to help localities determine the fluoridation status of their water system.

Resources to Learn More

Community Water Fluoridation
A collection of resources providing information about fluoridated community water with a focus on children's oral health.
Organization(s): National Maternal and Child Health Oral Health Resource Center (OHRC)

Community Water Fluoridation
A collection of resources related to water fluoridation, including guidelines and recommendations, data and methods for calculating statistics, frequently asked questions, and links to organizations promoting fluoridation.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Dental Caries (Cavities): Community Water Fluoridation
Summarizes the evidence-based findings and recommendations of the Community Preventive Services Task Force supporting community water fluoridation to reduce tooth decay.
Organization(s): The Community Guide
Date: 4/2013

Fluoride Legislative User Information Database (FLUID)
Describes a comprehensive database (FLUID) containing historical information on legal cases decided by U.S. courts and current information regarding federal and state policies on community water fluoridation. Local policies that affect significant U.S. population bases are added over time.
Organization(s): The Network for Public Health Law