Systematic reviews archive
Three systematic reviews published since 2000 have analysed studies looking to see whether there have been any adverse effects for general health from drinking intentionally fluoridated water. None of the reviews identified such effects, although they identified a need for more research in some areas.
Australian NHMRC (2016)
This definitive update of the 2007 review found no association between water fluoridation and cancer, Down Syndrom, IQ, mortality, and muscle and skeletal effects.Read more
Irish Health Research Board (2015)
The Irish Health Research Board review found no strong evidence of any association between community water fluoridation and negative health effects.Read more
Australian NHMRC (2007)
The Australian NHMRC review, which also looked at studies published since the York report, concurred broadly with its findings.Read more
University of York (2000)
The York reviewers concluded that there was no association between optimally fluoridated water and higher rates of bone fractures or higher rates of cancer. Whilst finding no evidence of other harmful effects, they indicated a need for more research in some areas.Read more
Expert reports archive
There is evidence from a number of studies that water fluoridation is a cost-effective – possibly the most cost-effective – means of reducing tooth decay. They include a 1998 report by the York Economics Consortium, a study by US researchers published in 2001, and an updated review by a US Community Preventive Services Task Force published in 2016.
US Community Preventive Services Task Force
An updated review of the cost effectiveness of water fluoridation was published in 2016 by the US Community...Read more
Reduced dental treatment costs generally outweigh fluoridation costs
An economic evaluation of fluoridation by US researchers published in 2001 estimated that the reduction in the cost...Read more
York Health Economics Consortium
A 1994 study by the University of York Health Economics Consortium concluded that water fluoridation is the most...Read more
Studies of interest
Figures from Public Health England show that the cost of fluoridating water supplied to around 6 million people across the country was just over £2 million in 2014/15.
This works out at about 35 pence per person per annum served by those fluoridation schemes and contrasts significantly with the £54 it costs on average to perform of a single filling of decayed tooth on the NHS or the £558 it costs on average to undertake tooth extractions under a general anaesthetic in hospital.
The least expensive way to deliver the benefits of fluoride to all residents of a community
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says: “Community water fluoridation is not only safe and effective, but it is also cost-saving and the least expensive way to deliver the benefits of fluoride to all residents of a community.
“For larger communities of more than 20,000 people, it costs about 50 cents per person to fluoridate the water. It is also cost-effective because every $1 invested in this preventive measure yields approximately $38 savings in dental treatment costs.
“This method of fluoride delivery benefits all people regardless of age, income, education, or socioeconomic status. A person’s income and ability to get routine dental care are not barriers since all residents of a community can enjoy fluoride’s protective benefits just by drinking tap water and consuming foods and beverages prepared with it.
“Fluoride from other sources prevents tooth decay as well, whether from toothpaste, mouth rinses, professionally applied fluoride treatments, or prescription fluoride supplements. These methods of delivering fluoride, however, are more costly than water fluoridation and require a conscious decision to use them.”