The oral health benefits of fluoride can be traced to the early 1900’s when a dentist discovered that a water supply naturally high in fluoride decreased the occurrence of cavities in his patients.
Subsequent studies in the 1930’s found that a very small amount of fluoride (around 1.0 parts per million) was optimal for the prevention of cavities without causing mottled enamel on the teeth.
In 1945, fluoride was first added to a public water supply when the City of Grand Rapids began the practice. Since then, many cities and public water suppliers have adopted the practice of adding fluoride to drinking water during the treatment process in order to provide oral health benefits to the community.
For over fifty years, the American Dental Association (ADA) has endorsed fluoridation of community water supplies as a safe and effective measure for preventing tooth decay. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state, “Community water fluoridation is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay, and has been identified by the CDC as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
Community water fluoridation remains the model for dental disease prevention, saving Americans billions of dollars every year while benefitting their oral health. Studies have shown that when water is fluoridated at beneficial levels, it strengthens children’s teeth as they form and repair early stages of decay. In adults, it reduces the occurrence of root cavities.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) advocates the addition of fluoride in public drinking water systems for these reasons. The maximum allowable fluoride level established by the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is 4.0 ppm while the recommended target for oral health benefits is 0.7 ppm.
Understanding Fluoridation at WaterOne
WaterOne follows the mandate of its customers to fluoridate treated water, passed by public referendum in 1967. Fluoride is a naturally occurring element in the Kansas and Missouri Rivers at 0.24 ppm – 0.4 ppm. WaterOne maintains the minimum recommended target for oral health benefits (0.7 ppm), which means that about 35-60% of the fluoride in our water is naturally occurring. This allows us to follow recommendations from nationally recognized health organizations and regulation from state and federal health agencies to produce great water safely.
As in all things we do for water quality, fluoride levels are strictly regulated and closely monitored. We have a steady track record of meeting the established standards for fluoride. Producing high-quality water safely is our mission. As a responsible utility, if we ever did exceed standards we are required by law to notify the public.
In spite of the proven benefits of fluoride in drinking water, there is periodic public debate on this practice. As a part of our commitment to high standards, we routinely revisit this topic to ensure we stay engaged with the latest developments in the accredited scientific community. In addition, WaterOne is a proud member of the Water Research Foundation, supporting independent research on water quality and public health areas related to drinking water.
Public safety is our priority. If WaterOne detects harmful substances in the water supply, we are required by law to notify the public. To ensure we reach you with important information about water quality and your water service, sign-up for Notify JoCo.