Water Fluoridation

Why is oral health a public health issue?

Oral health is integral to general health.1 Although preventable, tooth decay is a chronic disease affecting all age groups. In fact, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood.1 It is a greater problem for those who have limited access to prevention and treatment services. Left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain and tooth loss. Infection originating from teeth can lead to abscesses and spread to distant sites of the body like the brain. Among children, untreated decay has been associated with difficulty in eating, sleeping, learning, and proper nutrition.1 An estimated 51 million school hours are lost due to cavities. Almost one fifth of all health care expenditures in children are related to dental care. 1 Among adults, untreated decay and tooth loss can also have negative effects on an individual's self-esteem and employability.

In the U.S., tooth decay 2 affects:

  • 1 in 4 children aged 2-5
  • 1 in 2 school children
  • 2 of 3 adolescents
  • 9 of 10 adults

Tooth decay may lead to:

  • Abscess and extremem pain
  • Blood infection that can spread
  • Difficulty in Chewing
  • Poor weight gain
  • School absences
  • Crooked teeth

Information on Water Fluoridation in New York State

References

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 2000.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oral Health. Preventing Cavities, Gum Disease, and Tooth Loss 2008. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008.. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/aag/doh.htm