Oral (Dental) Health

Fluoride is mineral that has been proven to prevent, and even reverse, tooth decay. For 65 years, community water fluoridation has been a safe, healthy, and accepted practice to help prevent and control tooth decay. Water fluoridation has been recognized as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Fluoridation Today in Madison County

Residents of Madison County with public water served by Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA), and the Villages of Hamilton and Morrisville have benefited from optimal fluoride treatment of their respective water supplies for decades. Approximately 48% of Madison County’s population is served by municipal water systems with optimally fluoridated water, compared to 71.4% across New York State (without New York City, 47.2%).

Benefits of Water Fluoridation

  • Water fluoridation prevents tooth decay mainly by providing teeth with frequent contact with low levels of fluoride throughout each day and throughout life. Fluoride helps to remineralize tooth surfaces and prevents cavities from continuing to form. Even today, with other available sources of fluoride, studies show that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by about 25 percent over a person's lifetime.
  • Community water fluoridation is safe, effective, and also cost-saving. It is the least expensive way to deliver the benefits of fluoride to all residents of a community. It is also cost-effective because every $1 invested in this preventive measure yields approximately $38 savings in dental treatment costs.
  • Community water fluoridation benefits all people - regardless of age, income, education, or socioeconomic status. A person's income and ability to get routine dental care are not barriers since all residents of a community can enjoy fluoride's protective benefits just by drinking tap water and consuming foods and beverages prepared with it.

The widespread availability of fluoride through water fluoridation, toothpaste, and other sources has resulted in the steady decline of dental caries throughout the United States.

Studies continue to show that widespread community water fluoridation prevents cavities and saves money, both for families and the health care system.

Background on Fluoridation

Tooth decay is caused by certain bacteria in the mouth. When a person eats sugar and other refined carbohydrates, these bacteria produce acid that removes minerals from the surface of the tooth.

Fluoride from other sources prevents tooth decay as well, whether from toothpaste, mouth rinses, professionally applied fluoride treatments, or prescription fluoride supplements. These methods of delivering fluoride, however, are more costly than water fluoridation and require a conscious decision to use them.

Extensive studies scientific studies and comprehensive reviews have continually recognized fluoridation as an effective and safe way to prevent tooth decay.

Click here to view the Oral Health and other Madison County Health Profiles