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Adding fluoride to water supply fights cavities

A scientific review has concluded that adding fluoride to a community's water supply can help prevent kids from getting cavities. This latest support for community water fluoridation is just another in a long line of scientific studies that show fluoride is safe and effective.

Fluoride is an organic compound that can occur naturally in the soil, water, and atmosphere. Because it has been proved to fight cavities, it is often added to toothpastes, mouth rinses, and gels, as well as many community water systems. The U.S. began adding fluoride to water in 1945, and today nearly 75% of community water systems in the U.S. have added fluoride.

"Water fluoridation is effective and safe," American Dental Association President Maxine Feinberg, DDS, has stated.

What does the latest review say?

A Cochrane Library review of published scientific studies offers the most recent support for fluoride. In the review, Cochrane researchers compared the oral health of children who received fluoridated water, either naturally or artificially, to those who received water with little or no fluoride.

They found that introducing fluoride to a community's water supply led to a 35% reduction of decayed, missing, or filled baby teeth. Community water fluoridation also increased by 15% the percentage of children who didn't have any cavities.

Organizations stand behind fluoridation

Community water fluoridation is backed by a number of dental and health organizations. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists water fluoridation as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. In addition, many dental and medical groups have long supported fluoridated water, including the following:

  • American Dental Association
  • World Health Organization
  • American Dental Education Association
  • International Association of Dental Research
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
  • American Dental Hygienists' Association

"The biggest advantage of community water fluoridation is that it is the best method of delivering fluoride to all members of the community, regardless of age, education, income level, or access to routine dental care," said Katherine Weno, DDS, JD, director of the Division of Oral Health for the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in response to the Cochrane report.

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