Brief Background on Fluoridation


In 1901, a Colorado dentist named Dr. Frederick McKay began decades of research to discover and ultimately prove to the world that fluoride, a mineral found in rocks and soil, prevented tooth decay. Due to his dedicated studies and those of his colleagues at the time, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the world’s first city to adjust the level of fluoride in its water supply in 1945.


Since that time, fluoridation has dramatically improved the oral health of tens of millions of Americans.  Community water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed community water fluoridation as “one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”


Fluoridation of community water supplies is simply the precise adjustment of the existing and naturally occurring fluoride levels in drinking water to a fluoride level recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service (0.7 parts per million) for the prevention of dental decay.  Based on data from 2012, approximately 210 million people (almost three-quarters of the population) on public water systems in the U.S. receive the benefits of fluoridated water.


Studies conducted throughout the past 70 years have consistently shown that fluoridation of community water supplies is safe and effective in preventing dental decay. It is one of the most efficient ways to prevent one of the most common childhood diseases—tooth decay. Tooth decay is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever in 5- to 17-year-olds).


Early studies showed that water fluoridation reduced the amount of cavities children get in their baby teeth by as much as 60 percent and reduced tooth decay in permanent adult teeth by nearly 35 percent.  Community water fluoridation prevents at least 25 percent of tooth decay in children and adults throughout the lifespan. Today, studies prove water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay, even in an era with widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste.


The average annual cost for a community to fluoridate its water is estimated to range from approximately $0.50 per person in large communities to approximately $3 per person in small communities.  For most cities, every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $43 in dental treatment costs.

About Colorado Fluoride Facts

Colorado Fluoride Facts is a public-service project dedicated to helping Coloradans understand the facts and benefits of community water fluoridation.

For more information, please send us an email at info@coloradofluoridefacts.org

© Colorado Fluoride Facts 2015