By: Sara Carmichael-Stanley, MPH, Community Water Fluoridation Coordinator, Iowa Department of Public Health
Community Water Fluoridation (CWF) is the precise adjustment of fluoride levels in drinking water to help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is naturally present in all water sources, including ground, surface, and sea water, but usually at levels less than the optimal amount (0.7 mg/L) to prevent tooth decay. The practice of water fluoridation has been studied and applied to water systems throughout the United States for over 70 years. It is safe and effective and has been shown to reduce tooth decay by at least 25 percent for all ages.
In Iowa, CWF started in 1951 with Waukon Water and Dubuque Water. Currently, just under 3 million Iowans (2,818,710) receive the oral health benefits of fluoridated water, representing 90.2 percent of the population served by a community water system. However, the Iowa Department of Public Health can only verify that 63.6 percent (1,617,014 people) of that 90.2 percent are receiving the optimal amount every day to prevent tooth decay.
The 2017 Annual Report on Water Fluoridation highlights the community water systems in each county and identifies the fluoridation level and population served. This report is designed to assist local public health professionals, dental and medical staff, and the public to make informed decisions about their oral health.
For the most current fluoride level in your community, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website My Water's Fluoride.