Fluoride Myths & Facts

Fact #11: Leading health and medical organizations agree: fluoridated water is both safe and effective.

  • Leading health and medical authorities support water fluoridation as safe. The CDC reports that panels of experts from different health and scientific fields have provided strong evidence that water fluoridation is safe and effective.
  • More than 3,200 studies or reports had been published on the subject of fluoridation.
  • A 2011 Harvard study found no link between fluoride and bone cancer.

Asian mother with baby boy on beach drinking waterFact#12: Dozens of studies and 70 years of experience have consistently shown that fluoridation reduces tooth decay.

  • The CDC recognizes fluoridation’s effectiveness in preventing tooth decay and cited fluoridated drinking water as one of the “10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
  • An analysis of two similarly sized, adjacent communities in Arkansas showed that residents without access to fluoridated water had twice as many cavities as those with access to fluoridated water.
  • Adults benefit from fluoride, too. A 2007 review of studies found that fluoride prevents caries (tooth decay) among adults of all ages and that fluoridated water prevents decay by as much as 27%.

Fact #13: Millions of people living in Europe are receiving the benefits of fluoride.

  • Fluoridated water reaches 12 million Europeans, mostly residents of Great Britain, Ireland and Spain. Fluoridated milk programs reach millions more people, mostly in Eastern Europe.
  • Salt fluoridation is the most widely used approach in Europe. In fact, at least 70 million Europeans consume fluoridated salt, and this method of fluoridation reaches most of the population in Germany and Switzerland. These two countries have among the lowest rates of tooth decay in all of Europe.
  • Technical challenges are a major reason why fluoridated water is not widespread in Europe. In France and Switzerland, for example, water fluoridation is logistically difficult because of the terrain and because there are tens of thousands of separate sources for drinking water. This is why Western Europe relies more on salt fluoridation, fluoride rinse programs and other means to get fluoride to the public.

Fact #14: Community water fluoridation is the most cost-effective way to protect oral health.

  • A 2003 study of fluoridation in Colorado concluded that “even in the current situation of widespread use of fluoride toothpaste,” water fluoridation “remains effective and cost saving” at preventing cavities.
  • Studies conducted in communities that fluoridated water in the years after fluoride toothpastes were widely used have shown a lower rate of tooth decay than communities without fluoridated water.
  • Water fluoridation is inexpensive to maintain and saves money down the road. The typical cost of fluoridating a local water system is between 40 cents and $2.70 per person, per year.