Community water flouridation allows 75 percent of Americans to drink water that’s equitable, cost-effective and provides oral health protection. Photo by CDC

Community water flouridation allows 75 percent of Americans to drink water that’s equitable, cost-effective and provides oral health protection. Photo by CDC

Seventy years ago, the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, made history when it added fluoride to its community water system to prevent tooth decay.

It was one of the most important decisions ever made in public health.

As one of the 10 greatest public health achievements in the 20th century, community water fluoridation now allows 75 percent of Americans to drink water that’s equitable, cost-effective and provides oral health protection. On Sept. 11-12, dental and public health organizations will host the 70th Anniversary Fluoridation Celebration and Symposium  to “celebrate fluoridation and establish a national fluoridation dialogue that will aid in refocusing efforts on securing water fluoridation for U.S. communities.”

APHA and its Oral Health Section have long championed community water fluoridation, dating back to our 1950 policy statement, “Fluoridation of public water supplies.” Since then, APHA has reaffirmed this position 18 times with updated evidence for its continued support.

APHA’s latest recommendations include calling:

  • for federal, state, and local agencies and organizations to promote water fluoridation as the foundation for better oral health;
  • for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to consider all U.S. and non-U.S. evidence-based studies concerning low-concentration fluoride toothpaste for children under age 6 during tooth-developing years to reduce the risk of enamel fluorosis and tooth decay; and
  • for bottled water manufacturers to offer an option of bottled water with an optimal level of fluoride and to label all bottled water with its fluoride concentration.

“Community water fluoridation is public health working at its finest, with more than 210 million people reaping the benefits,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “What started in Grand Rapids with evidence-based science has turned into a successful intervention helping communities across the country dramatically reduce dental caries. On the 70th anniversary of community water fluoridation, I’d like to thank our members for their dedicated advocacy for oral health.”

For more information about community water fluoridation visit CDC’s oral health page.