CDC urges drinking water plants to add fluoride

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today urged all community drinking water providers to add fluoride to drinking water, reporting that some children still miss out on the tooth decay-fighting benefits of fluoride.

August 16, 2001 — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today urged all community drinking water providers to add fluoride to drinking water, reporting that some children still miss out on the tooth decay-fighting benefits of fluoride.

"Fluoride is needed throughout the lifespan to prevent and control tooth decay. Better use of fluoride can lead to considerable savings in public and private resources and continue the tremendous advances we've made in reducing tooth decay," said CDC Director Dr. Jeffrey Koplan.

Fluoridation of community drinking water, which began in the late1940s, and use of other fluoride products, are credited for the dramatic reductions in tooth decay experienced by U.S. residents. In 1999, the CDC included water fluoridation in its list of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Studies show that fluoride prevents the formation, slows the progression, and even reverses newly-forming cavities.

"Although these declines have been dramatic, there are still some areas of the country that are not receiving the benefits of water fluoridation," Koplan added.

Key recommendations for fluoride use include the following:

* Continue and expand fluoridation of community drinking water. Water fluoridation in the proper amounts (0.7-1.2 parts per million [ppm]) has been accepted as a safe, effective, and inexpensive method of preventing tooth decay. Adding fluoride to municipal drinking water also is an efficient strategy to reduce the inequalities in dental disease among Americans of all social strata. All persons should know whether or not their primary source of drinking water has an optimal level of fluoride. Approximately 100 million Americans currently do not receive the benefit of fluoridation.

* Label bottled water with the fluoride concentration. Increased labeling of bottled waters on a voluntary basis will allow consumers to make informed decisions on their fluoride intake.

"With multiple sources of fluoride available to us, we want to ensure that every family member gets fluoride in the right amount, in the right place, and at the right time," stated Dr. William R. Maas, director of CDC's Division of Oral Health (DOH). "These new recommendations will provide the framework for effective and efficient fluoride use in today's environment of multiple sources of fluoride."

The complete report is available at the CDC Web site: www2.cdc.gov/mmwr/. For more information, please call CDC at the numbers listed above or visit the DOH Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/oh/.

CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national and international organizations.

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