Commentary by Dr. Alex White

As a public health dentist with nearly 35 years of experience, I would like to respond to the Commentary last week from the “Fluoride Free Chapel Hill/Carrboro” campaign.

For more than 70 years, community water fluoridation has been used to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health.   Millions of Americans – children, adults, and seniors – benefit from fluoridation each year.  In 2014, more than 211 million people, or 75% of the U.S. population, were served by community water systems that contain enough fluoride to protect their teeth.

Community water fluoridation is not only safe and effective, it is also cost-saving – yielding about $38 savings in dental treatment costs for every $1 invested.  Drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and reduces cavities by about 25% in children and adults.  By preventing cavities, community water fluoridation improves health and saves money both for families, and for the U.S. health care system.

Community water fluoridation is recommended by nearly all major public health, medical, and dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Public Health Service, and the World Health Organization.  Because of its contribution to the large decline in cavities in the United States since the 1960s, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Let’s continue to follow the scientific and public health evidence supporting effective fluoridation of our public water supplies.