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Supplemental Measures: Policy

Water Fluoridation*, 2018 Annual Report
Measure: Water Fluoridation, 2018 Annual Report

Why does this matter?

Community water fluoridation, the addition of an optimal amount of fluoride to a public water supply, is an effective way of preventing tooth decay in children and adults. Tooth decay, called dental caries by medical professionals, is the result of bacteria dissolving the enamel of a tooth. Dental caries are the most common chronic disease in children and can lead to:

  • Bacterial infections of the tooth root
  • Tooth extraction
  • Bacterial infections in the rest of the body
  • Pain, which can lead to decreased productivity and quality of life

Children with dental caries have nearly three times the odds of missing school due to dental pain compared with children with good oral health and, on average, have poorer school performance. Children and populations with low socioeconomic status have a higher prevalence of dental caries yet have barriers to accessing dental care, and less frequently have private dental insurance. Community water fluoridation is one of the primary methods of addressing this disparity. Fluoride inhibits mineral loss and enhances remineralization in tooth enamel, and also inhibits bacterial activity in dental plaque.

Source:
  • CDC, Water Fluoridation Reporting System, 2014
*The data appearing in this edition are the same that appeared in the 2017 edition.

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