Community water fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride levels in a water system to prevent tooth decay, and has been hailed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of ten “great public health achievements” of the Twentieth Century.
On April 27, 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule recommending that drinking water in all regions of the country be fluoridated at 0.7 milligrams per liter. This rule replaces the previous version that recommended different levels across the nation, from 0.7 mg/L to 1.2 mg/L, determined by climate. The issuance of the new recommendations provides an opportunity for public health professionals to review the public health impact of community water fluoridation and to clarify the complementary roles that federal, state and local government agencies play in water fluoridation. Clarifying these roles and understanding the rationale for the new HHS recommendations can help reduce confusion and encourage public dialogue that focuses on the scientific evidence.
This issue brief provides information on the background of community water fluoridation, and explains the roles of federal, state and local governments in providing community water fluoridation.