Chicago (April 27, 2015) — Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the final Public Health Service (PHS) recommendation for the optimal fluoride level in drinking water to prevent tooth decay. The new recommendation is for a single level of 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water. It updates and replaces the previous recommended range (0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter), which was issued in 1962.
Because it is now possible to receive enough fluoride with slightly lower levels of fluoride in water, HHS developed the new PHS recommendation for community water fluoridation. This change will maintain the protective decay prevention benefits of water fluoridation and reduce the occurrence of dental fluorosis.
“While additional sources of fluoride are more widely used than they were in 1962, the need for community water fluoridation still continues,” said U.S. Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH. “Community water fluoridation is effective, inexpensive and does not depend on access or availability of professional services.”
For the past 70 years, communities across the United States have found that fluoride in their public water systems significantly improved their residents’ oral health. Nearly 75 percent of Americans who are served by public water systems receive fluoridated water. The ADHA is a supporter of community water fluoridation — the ADHA’s Policy Manual states that community water fluoridation is a “safe and effective method for reducing the incidence of dental caries.” In addition, the organization also promotes the “education of the public and other health professionals regarding the preventive and therapeutic benefits of fluoride.”
“As dental hygienists, it’s important that we educate the public on the preventive benefits of community water fluoridation,” said ADHA President Kelli Swanson Jaecks, MA, RDH. “Community water fluoridation serves as an important measure that has been shown to lower the rate of dental caries. It is vital that we continue to utilize water fluoridation to help the public achieve their optimal oral health.”
The U.S. Public Health Service Recommendation for Fluoride Concentration in Drinking Water for the Prevention of Dental Caries was published on April 27, 2015, in Public Health Reports. You may view the report by visiting http://www.publichealthreports.org/documents/PHS_2015_Fluoride_Guidelines.pdf.
For more information about community water fluoridation, the Children’s Dental Health Project fluoridation toolkit (http://www.ilikemyteeth.org/) offers a number of resources and facts about water fluoridation. Information for health care providers and individuals on how to prevent tooth decay and reduce the chance of developing dental fluorosis also may be obtained by visiting http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation.