|dc.description.abstract||The effects of fluoride in the public water source have been a topic of debate for
many decades now. Many organizations like the American Dental Association and the
World Health Organization support the benefits of water fluoridation for preventing
dental caries (more commonly known as cavities) and oral health in general. The Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention listed it as one of the ten greatest public health
achievements in the 20th century.
However, there has always been a strong opposition and has led many countries
and communities to take action that prohibits fluoride to enter their water supplies. As
this is a public health measure, it affects everyone in a community. In 2010, 74% of the
United States population was served with fluoridated water supplies (Schneider, 2013).
Further, those not living in these communities are exposed to fluoride via food products
that are made with fluoridated water. The overwhelming presence of fluoride has caused
some community members to seriously consider the costs and benefits, but often many
others are unaware of this public health topic.
To make a decision on communal water fluoridation, it is necessary to gain a full
understanding of complex factors, including the history of water fluoridation throughout
the world, the properties of fluorine as a chemical, how the body metabolizes it, how
fluoride works to prevent tooth decay and dental caries, the cost effectiveness of water
fluoridation, and alternative fluoride options. This paper offers a detailed explanation of
divergent views on this topic, and the inherent ethical implications that arise when
weighing the value of communal water fluoridation. The paper will also describe the
history and evidence regarding the efficacy of water fluoridation and its mechanism of
For the better part of a century, water fluoridation has withstood the countless
attacks against it. As this paper has summarized, when fluoride concentrations range from
0.7-1.2 ppm in water supplies, there is no substantial evidence suggesting it has adverse
health effects, and the balance between cost and benefits is in overwhelmingly in favor of
taking this public health measure: today in the U.S., water fluoridation reduces tooth
decay by up to 40%.
Moreover, it is not only the “smart” choice; it is also the ethical choice to make.
As a public health measure the government provides as a benefit to the population, water
fluoridation focuses on children, equitably providing a resource for health to all children
regardless of background. Furthermore, the economic benefits include the considerable
savings for families who would otherwise incur costs for dental procedures that would
likely occur if the child did not have the benefits of fluoride.
It is important to remember that fluoride is a naturally occurring element in water,
adjusted to optimal levels for populations to consumer. The available data suggest that
fluoride at these concentrations provides maximum benefits to human health while
minimizing the risks. As always, further research is needed to illuminate the dimensions
of this issue; fluoride and its mechanisms of action occur on the microscopic level, and
remain difficult to comprehend fully. Nevertheless, as the data summarized in this paper
have shown, communities should feel confident that communal water fluoridation could
provide significant benefits to residents without adverse health effects.||en_US