Virginia Health Catalyst provided the content for this article. To learn more about their work, visit vahealthcatalyst.org
Drinking water is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to promote health. Water keeps our bodies functioning efficiently and helps us consume fewer empty calories, especially when substituted for sugary drinks like sodas. We get even more benefits when we drink fluoridated water from the tap: it’s friendly to the environment, cost-effective, and prevents dental cavities.
When we consume sugary foods and drinks, bacteria in the mouth produces acid that eats away at the tooth’s surface, or enamel, increasing the risk of cavities. Drinking tap water with fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, protects against tooth decay by rebuilding and strengthening the tooth’s enamel. Research has also shown fluoride use decreases tooth pain and tooth loss from tooth decay.
Fluoridated water is the most cost-effective way to deliver these health benefits to people of all ages, reducing tooth decay by as much as 25%. Adding the recommended level of fluoride to public drinking water, otherwise known as community water fluoridation, also saves money for both families and the health care system. People who drink fluoridated tap water spend less on expensive dental treatments and miss fewer hours of work or school because of tooth pain or trips to the dentist.
With over 75 years of proven health benefits in the US, community water fluoridation is recommended by nearly all public health, medical, and dental organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. The CDC named community water fluoridation one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century because of its contribution to the large decline in cavities in the US.
Did you know that Virginia has one of the highest rates of community water fluoridation in the country? Almost all (96%) of Virginia’s public drinking water is appropriately fluoridated. The health benefits of fluoridated drinking water would not be recognized, however, without trust in the safety of the water in your tap. Virginia’s public water is highly monitored for quality, safety, and taste, and is likely safe to drink. For more information on water quality where you live, visit the CDC website here.
Community water fluoridation efforts in your community are worth protecting because fluoridated water is the healthiest drink for children and adults. The next time you’re thirsty or sitting down for a meal, try a glass of fluoridated tap water to stay hydrated and healthy. Your teeth, body, and your wallet will thank you!
For even more inspiration to drink water and not sugary drinks, visit the Resources section of Williamsburg Health Foundation’s website, and download posters on exercise and sugary drinks.
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