Statements from the Health Community

Community Water Fluoridation

Since communities began monitoring and balancing the amount of fluoride in the community water supply in 1945 (called “Community Water Fluoridation”), there have been unsubstantiated claims that adding fluoride to optimum levels caused a variety of health problems – cancer, Down Syndrome, Alzheimer’s, bone disease, kidney problems, allergic reactions, etc. To ensure the public that these claims are false, the following are a few of the organizations that have published supportive statements regarding the effectiveness and safety of community water fluoridation.

National and International Organizations:

American Academy of Pediatrics (2020): “Parents will be interested to know that fluoride exists naturally in virtually all water supplies. Among the many respected organizations that have endorsed fluoridation as a safe, effective way to reduce decay are the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adding fluoride to water benefits everyone. In fact, as more and more communities have added fluoride to water supplies, our nation has seen a significant reduction in cavities and other dental problems. For example, the average number of decayed, filled, or missing teeth among 12-year-olds in the U.S. fell 68 percent between 1966 and 1994.”

“Children’s teeth are healthier than ever, but pediatricians around the country are still seeing kids, especially those from low-income areas, with high levels of decay,” said Mary Brown, MD, FAAP, an Oregon pediatrician and past board member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Expanding fluoridation would really help improve children’s oral health. It’s such an effective strategy because it doesn’t require families to spend extra money or change their daily routine.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020): “The safety and benefits of fluoride are well documented. For 70 years, people in the United States have benefited from drinking water with fluoride, leading to better dental health. Drinking fluoridated water keeps the teeth strong and reduced tooth decay by approximately 25% in children and adults. By preventing tooth decay, community water fluoridation has been shown to save money, both for families and the health care system.”

Surgeon General’s Statement (2016): “Water fluoridation is the best method for delivering fluoride to all members of the community, regardless of age, education, income level or access to routine dental care. Fluoride’s effectiveness in preventing tooth decay extends throughout one’s life, resulting in fewer – and less severe – cavities. In fact, each generation born over the past 70 years has enjoyed better dental health than the one before it. That’s the very essence of the American promise.”

Pew Charitable Trusts (2020): “We are building partnerships among state and local groups, philanthropic organizations, and national groups representing the broad-based support for water fluoridation. Through the Campaign for Dental Health, coordinated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pew supports efforts to protect and expand access to water fluoridation in communities throughout the nation. While about three-quarters of Americans on public water systems have fluoridated water, there are still tens of millions of people who do not have access to this preventive health benefit. In eight states, less than half of the population on community water systems has fluoridated water.  In New Jersey, Hawaii, and Oregon less than one-quarter are receiving fluoridation’s benefits.”

U.S. Public Health Service (2015): “Systematic reviews of the scientific evidence related to fluoride have concluded that community water fluoridation is effective in decreasing dental caries prevalence and severity. Effects included significant increases in the proportion of children who were caries-free and significant reductions in the number of teeth or tooth surfaces with caries in both children and adults.”

American Medical Association (2020): “The AMA urges state health departments to consider the value of required statewide fluoridation (preferably a comprehensive program of fluoridation of all public water supplies, where these are fluoride deficient), and to initiate such action as deemed appropriate.”

AMA has also encouraged physicians to “become involved” in the fluoridation issue by determining “whether municipal water supplies are optimally fluoridated and … working with public health agencies to take corrective action if suboptimal fluoridation is found.”

American Academy of Family Physicians (2018): “The American Academy of Family Physicians supports fluoridation of public water supplies as a safe, economical, and effective method to prevent dental caries.”

American Public Health Association (2020): “Studies show fluoridated water prevents at least 25 percent of tooth decay in children and adults, even with the use of other fluoride products. Community water fluoridation has proven to be a safe, effective and cost-saving public health measure for preventing tooth decay.”

Local Organizations:

Oregon Health Authority (2020): “Studies have shown that fluoride prevents tooth decay through contact with a child’s teeth during the tooth-forming years and through direct contact with teeth throughout the lifespan. Water fluoridation is the most inexpensive way to distribute the benefits of fluoride to the community. Communities that participate in water fluoridation adjust the level of fluoride in their water supply to ensure sufficient levels of fluoride are contained in the water given to the public.”

Oregon State Epidemiologist (2012): “Community water fluoridation can make huge improvements in oral health. Fluoridation is the most important intervention we have at our disposal to ensure optimal dental health in the community, particularly of children.”

Community pressured to discontinue fluoridation (2013): “The public works director read the council a long list of agencies that support the practice, including the American Medical Association and World Health Organization. He said the U.S. Center for Disease Control had concluded that fluoridation of drinking water was one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.”

Beaverton, Oregon (2015): “The City fluoridates our drinking water to improve the dental health for consumers of Beaverton’s water.”

Tualatin Valley Water District (2015): TVWD fluoridates the Wolf Creek portion of the District at 0.7 part per million in accordance with the proposed guidance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Oregon Dental Association (2015): “For 70 years, the best available scientific evidence consistently indicates that community water fluoridation is safe and effective. It has been endorsed by numerous U.S. Surgeons General, and more than 100 health organizations recognize the health benefits of water fluoridation for preventing dental decay, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the American Dental Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Portland fails to fluoridate (Hill, 2013): “Water fluoridation isn’t just the addition of fluoride; it’s the regulation of fluoride in the water supply. The freedom to question the government that makes America great is a banner that shades our most cherished values. Sometimes, the shadow creeps too far. Should we have the freedom to refuse a critically important public health measure? When the enshrinement of autonomy bleeds into areas where personal opinion is the lowest form of evidence, it leads to perplexing questions about whether or not we have a right to be less healthy by choice.”