Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral present in all water sources and, to some extent, in all foods and beverages. It is necessary for healthy teeth and bones throughout our lifetime. Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the natural fluoride content of water to the optimum level that prevents tooth decay. It is similar to adding Vitamin D to milk to prevent rickets.
Fluoridation is Safe and Effective
Fluoridation provides dental health benefits to the entire community. Since water fluoridation began in the United States 57 years ago, decades of studies clearly demonstrate that water fluoridated at the recommended optimum level is safe and reduces tooth decay up to 60 percent in children under 6 years and up to 40 percent in older children and adults. Thousands of reliable, scientific studies also show there is no harmful effect on humans or the environment.
The U.S. Surgeon General reports that community water fluoridation remains one of the great achievements of public health in the 20th century — an inexpensive means of improving oral health that benefits all residents of a community, young and old, rich and poor alike; an ideal public health measure.
Why Should San Diego Fluoridate?
- Oral Health is essential to general health and well-being. Tooth decay is highly preventable, but expensive to treat, with very serious and costly consequences if untreated.
- The Surgeon General reports profound disparities in the oral health of our citizens, with poor children and the elderly and members of racial and ethnic minority groups particularly vulnerable. The medically compromised and those with disabilities also are at greater risk for oral disease.
- More teeth are lost from decay than any other cause. Compared to the national average, twice as many California children ages 6 to 8 years have tooth decay; 84 percent have cavities by graduation from high school — an epidemic of a largely preventable disease! The California Children’s Dental Health Initiative found minority children the most vulnerable: nearly half of Asian and African American students and nearly three-fourths of Latino students have untreated dental decay.
- The California State Assembly, State Senate and the Governor passed and signed AB 733 requiring fluoridation of public water systems with 10,000 or more service connections when funding is available.
What are the Cost Savings?
- Californians spend $4 billion annually on dental care, with $700 million being paid by taxpayers for publicly funded dental programs.
- Preventing just one cavity in each school-age child in California will save taxpayers an estimated $385 million over the first five years of statewide fluoridation.
- It costs $1,200 to $4,700 to treat one child suffering from “baby bottle tooth decay.” Estimates indicate that approximately 150,000 pre-school children in San Diego County suffer from such Early Childhood Dental Disease.
- Fluoridation is the single most cost-effective preventive oral health program available.
- The approximate annual cost of continuing fluoridation in a city the size of San Diego is about 54 cents per person/per year ($40.50 for average lifetime) compared to the average cost of more than $100 to fill just one cavity. Estimates show that for every $1 spent on fluoridation, up to $140 of dental treatment costs can be saved.
- The California Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (1991-1994) determined that 71 percent of the population would vote in favor of fluoridation. A 1998 Gallup poll found 70 percent in favor of fluoridation nationwide; a countywide San Diego survey found 71 percent acceptance of a small monthly water bill increase to support fluoridation.
- Over 80 national and international organizations support fluoridation, including Rady Children’s, and virtually every major scientific and health-related organization. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included fluoridation of drinking water as one of the 20th Century’s “Ten Great Public Health Achievements.”
- The San Diego Fluoridation Coalition represents more than 100 local organizations, agencies and community leaders, plus more than 12,000 individuals, working together to achieve:
ONE OF THE FOUR PILLARS OF PUBLIC HEALTH,
PASTEURIZATION OF MILK,
IMMUNIZATION OF CHILDREN
and WATER PURIFICATION
FLUORIDATION EQUALS PREVENTION
For additional information:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/
- American Dental Association: www.ada.org (Type “fluoridation” in the search box.)
- San Diego County Dental Society: www.sdcds.org/Dental-Information/fluoridation