Community Water Fluoridation 101


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Campaign for Dental Health

Ever had a toothache? A cavity?

Lots of people—especially Latino kids—have problems with tooth decay, even though it’s easy to prevent by brushing with toothpaste twice a day and flossing, too.

Drinking water with fluoride in it can also protect our teeth.

What is “fluoridated water”?

Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens teeth so they’re more resistant to the bacteria that cause decay. Fluoride is found naturally in all sources of water. (It comes from phosphate rock and, like other minerals, dissolves into the water supply.)

In some places, like parts of Colorado, the natural level of fluoride is more concentrated than it is in others.

That’s how we discovered that people who drink water with fluoride have stronger teeth than people who don’t.

About 70 years ago, a handful of towns in the United States started adjusting the fluoride in their tap water to prevent cavities.

Scientists tracked tooth decay in kids and found that people who grew up drinking fluoridated water had far fewer cavities than people in non-fluoridated towns, an average of 50%-70% fewer cavities.

Why is this important to you?

To be healthy, kids need to have healthy mouths.

Mouth pain means that kids miss school and parents miss work, and dental treatment can be expensive or hard to access. Poor oral health can lead to infections, nutritional problems, and affect a child’s overall well-being.

Latino kids suffer more than other kids from tooth decay, from baby teeth up through permanent teeth. Latino kids from families with lower incomes have the highest rates of severe and untreated decay.

In addition to brushing and flossing, drinking fluoridated water adds an additional layer of protection against tooth decay and cavities because it bathes our teeth throughout the day in small amounts of this important mineral.

Water also is the healthiest drink option for kids. It has zero calories, unlike sugary drinks like sweetened juices, soda and sports drinks. Sugary drinks also contribute to weight gain and are not recommended for people with diabetes. Drinking water keeps us hydrated, protects our joints, and helps our whole body function smoothly.

Community water fluoridation (CWF) is a brilliantly simple, safe, and cost-effective way to prevent unnecessary dental disease and build healthier communities.

People of all ages and income levels benefit, just by turning on the tap!

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latino kids have obesity (compared to 11.7% of white kids)

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