General public – nationwide opinion surveys

Between two thirds and three quarters of people have been found to support adding fluoride to water to reduce tooth decay

Independently conducted public opinion surveys have consistently found between around two thirds and three quarters of those interviewed across England to be in favour of fluoridation.  The surveys have all been based on statistically sound, demographically representative samples of the whole population in terms of the gender, age and socio-economic status of individuals randomly selected to take part.

1980 nationwide survey commissioned by NOP for the West Midlands Regional Health Authority
Do you think fluoride should be added to water if it can reduce tooth decay?
Yes  71%  No 17%  Don’t know 11 %

1987 nationwide survey by Gallup for NAHA
Do you think fluoride should be added to water if it can reduce tooth decay?
Yes 76%   No 15%  Don’t know 9%

1992 nationwide survey by NOP for British Fluoridation Society
Do you think fluoride should be added to water if it can reduce tooth decay?
Yes 79%   No 15%  Don’t know 6%

1997 nationwide survey by NOP for the British Fluoridation Society
Do you think fluoride should be added to water if it can reduce tooth decay?
Yes 69%   No 18%  Don’t know 13%

2003 nationwide survey by NOP for the British Fluoridation Society
Do you think fluoride should be added to water if it can reduce tooth decay?
Yes 67%   No 22%   Don’t know 11%

MORE PEOPLE THINK THEIR WATER IS FLUORIDATED THAN IS ACTUALLY THE CASE

In the 1992 NOP national opinion survey, and again in the 2003 survey, over 40% of those interviewed thought they were already receiving fluoridated water, compared with 11% or thereabouts who were actually receiving it.  This suggests a gap between public expectations on the one hand and what the authorities responsible for public health have been able to achieve on the other.

MOST PEOPLE DO NOT REALISE THAT FLUORIDE IS PRESENT NATURALLY IN WATER

Surveys have shown that most people do not realise that fluoride is a natural constituent of water and that fluoridation is simply the process of topping up something that is already there rather than adding something ordinarily absent.

In the 1992 and 2003 NOP surveys, only around 30% said (correctly) that there was natural fluoride in water, while around 35% of the sample of adults questioned thought there was no fluoride present naturally in water and the remaining 35% said they did not know.