Water fluoridation and oral health

Acta Med Acad. 2013 Nov;42(2):131-9. doi: 10.5644/ama2006-124.81.


Water fluoridation, is the controlled addition of fluoride to the water supply, with the aim of reducing the prevalence of dental caries. Current estimates suggest that approximately 370 million people in 27 countries consume fluoridated water, with an additional 50 million consuming water in which fluoride is naturally occurring. A pre-eruptive effect of fluoride exists in reducing caries levels in pit and fissure surfaces of permanent teeth and fluoride concentrated in plaque and saliva inhibits the demineralisation of sound enamel and enhances the remineralisation of demineralised enamel. A large number of studies conducted worldwide demonstrate the effectiveness of water fluoridation. Objections to water fluoridation have been raised since its inception and centre mainly on safety and autonomy. Systematic reviews of the safety and efficacy of water fluoridation attest to its safety and efficacy; dental fluorosis identified as the only adverse outcome.

Conclusion: Water fluoridation is an effective safe means of preventing dental caries, reaching all populations, irrespective of the presence of other dental services. Regular monitoring of dental caries and fluorosis is essential particularly with the lifelong challenge which dental caries presents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cariostatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Fluoridation* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Fluorosis, Dental / epidemiology
  • Fluorosis, Dental / prevention & control*
  • Global Health*
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Oral Health / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Oral Health / standards*
  • Public Health*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Cariostatic Agents