NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fluoridation and Tooth Decay

April 3, 2000

Children in Hawaii have the nation's worst rate of tooth decay. To improve the situation, the legislature is considering a bill that would require fluoridation of public water systems serving 1,000 or more service connections. This would reach about 90 percent of Hawaii residents.

  • The rate of tooth decay among children ages 5 to 9 in Hawaii, at 3.9 decayed teeth per child, is more than twice the national average of 1.9 decayed teeth per child.
  • By contrast, on Hawaii's military bases, where water is fluoridated, the average rate of decayed teeth is 1.5 per child.
  • And while the proportion of 6 to 8 year olds with at least one decayed tooth is 45 percent on military basis, it is 75 percent elsewhere in the state.

About 62 percent of the U.S. population using public water systems, or 145 million people, draw water that is fluoridated.

"Community water fluoridation is considered among the most socially equitable and cost-effective public health measures ever implemented," says Susan Jacobs of the Hawaii Public Health Association.

Source: "Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Statewide Fluoridation Plan," Nation's Health, March 2000, American Public Health Association.


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