Nature's Tooth Decay Fighter

Community water fluoridation is an effective and inexpensive means of achieving the fluoride exposure necessary to help prevent tooth decay. Studies show that water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by about 20 to 40 percent.

Fluoride is a mineral that may occur naturally in all drinking water sources — oceans, lakes, rivers and underground water. Extensive research has shown that optimal levels of fluoride not only reduce tooth decay in children and adults, but also help repair the early stages of decay.

Leading health organizations, including the American Dental Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, support community water fluoridation on the basis of the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence, which continues to support its safety and effectiveness. Water fluoridation helps prevent tooth decay in both children and adults.

The optimal fluoride level in drinking water is 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million. Naturally occurring fluoride that may be below or above these levels is present in some water supplies.

If your drinking water comes from a public or community water supply, contact the local water supplier to determine the fluoride level. You also can check with your local, county or state health department.

Two Web sites also supply information for many communities:

  • the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Web site, "Consumer Confidence Reports," highlights annual water quality reports ("");
  • the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's fluoridation Web site, My Water's Fluoride".

If your drinking water comes from a private well, a certified laboratory can test samples and provide data. Contact your local or state health department for information about laboratories that provide this service.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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