Public health programmes extend beyond the clinical context and focus on measures that affect the lives of large subgroups or the population as a whole. An example of this is community water fluoridation (CWF), the altering of fluoride levels in the water supply with the aim of preventing the initiation and slowing the progression of dental caries lesions for the benefit of entire populations. Despite the unfeasibility of randomised controlled trials of CWF, a large volume of evidence is available on the topic. However, CWF remains a polarising and keenly contested issue. CWF is also an intervention where it is difficult to provide everyone affected with a choice. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is an independent body that examines and reports on ethical questions, and they have provided a useful ethical framework for considering CWF via the 'stewardship' model. This commentary aims to discuss each of the public health aims and how they can be applied and weighed to reach a justified position about CWF.