ADA, CDC to host National Fluoridation Symposium

Jan. 24, 2005
Set for July 13-15 in Chicago, the symposium will recognize the impact of community water fluoridation for improving oral health and overall health.

Community water fluoridation, cited as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), celebrates its 60th birthday this year.

To help recognize this public health milestone, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will host a National Fluoridation Symposium at the ADA headquarters in Chicago from July 13�15, 2005. The symposium will recognize the impact of community water fluoridation for improving oral health and overall health.

Also to commemorate the anniversary, CDC has developed a resource poster for water facility operators. The poster provides key information, including optimal fluoridation level for their states, how to monitor fluoridation levels at the plant to ensure optimal levels, operational and maintenance guidance, and benefits to the community. The poster has been endorsed by key partners in expanding community water fluoridation including the American Water Works Association, the National Rural Water Association, and the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors.

"Fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure for preventing tooth decay and improving oral health over a lifetime," states William R. Maas, D.D.S., M.P.H., Director, CDC Division of Oral Health.

"Community water fluoridation is the most economical preventive method we have in dentistry," says Richard Haught, D.D.S., ADA president. "We need to put special emphasis on providing fluoridation to those who aren't able to enjoy its benefits now."

On January 25, 1945, Grand Rapids, Mich., became the first community to adjust the fluoride content in the public water system to the level effective for prevention of tooth decay. Since that time, some 170 million Americans now have access to community water fluoridation.

"Because it reaches all people in a community regardless of education or income level, it is a powerful strategy in our efforts to eliminate differences in oral health among our citizens," explains Dr. Maas.

"There has been a significant and profound improvement in the oral health of the nation's children living in fluoridated communities," says the ADA's Dr. Haught. "I am convinced of the benefits of community water fluoridation. I have seen the oral health differences before and after it was instituted in my hometown of Tulsa, Okla."


The CDC Division of Oral Health supports expansion of community water fluoridation throughout the nation by providing technical assistance to state water programs on fluoridation implementation and practices. The division monitors the extent and quality of fluoridation through the Water Fluoridation Reporting System, which also provides the public with information on the level of fluoride in water systems. This information is available on the My Water's Fluoride Web site, which allows consumers in 31 participating states and two Native American tribes to obtain basic information about their water system, including the number of people served by the system and the target fluoridation level (

The American Dental Association has long endorsed community water fluoridation as safe, effective and necessary in preventing tooth decay. This support has been the Association's position since the policy was first adopted in 1950. The ADA, along with state and local dental societies, continues to work with federal, state, and local agencies to increase the number of communities benefiting from optimally fluoridated water. The ADA has developed a number of information resources, including the Fluoridation Facts booklet, videos, electronic presentations and resource kits. For more information and to view the entire ADA resource list, visit the ADA's "Fluoride and Fluoridation" Web site at

· Water fluoridation is the addition of fluoride to adjust the natural concentration of fluoride in a community's water supply to the level recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service for optimal dental health�0.7 to 1.2 parts per million (the equivalent of about 1 inch in 16 miles or 1 cent in $10,000).

· Dental caries, commonly known as tooth decay or cavities, is an infectious multifactorial disease in which acid from bacteria dissolve the enamel of a tooth. This often results in pain and loss of tooth structure.
Fluoride works by facilitating remineralization of the tooth's enamel, keeping the tooth strong by preventing the loss of minerals from the enamel as well as by enhancing the re-uptake of minerals into the tooth.

· Fluoridation of the public water supply was first instituted on January 25, 1945, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Studies in eight communities (four implemented fluoridation and four did not) comparing rates of tooth decay documented persuasive evidence of its effectiveness in decreasing tooth decay in children. As a result, other U.S. cities rapidly adopted this preventive intervention.

· A recent review by the U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services strongly recommended community water fluoridation for reducing tooth decay. For the many studies reviewed, there was a median 29% reduction in tooth decay among children and adolescents.

· Community water fluoridation benefits everyone, especially those without access to regular dental care. It is the most efficient way to prevent one of the most common childhood diseases � tooth decay (5 times as common as asthma and 7 times as common as hay fever in 5- to 17-year-olds). Without fluoridation, there would likely be many more than the estimated 51 million school hours lost per year in this country because of dental-related illness.

· Currently, 67% of Americans on public water systems receive optimally fluoridated water.

· Fluoridation is cost effective. For most U.S. communities, every dollar spent on community water fluoridation results in a savings of $38 in costs to repair (fill) a decayed tooth.