NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Increased usage of community water fluoridation has been credited with markedly reducing the prevalence and severity of tooth decay in the US in the past 60 years, but new research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that in many states the availability of optimally fluoridated water is lacking.

Overall, the percentage of the US population served by public water systems who received optimally fluoridated water rose from 62.1 percent in 1992 to 65.0 percent in 2000 and to 69.2 percent in 2006. The Healthy People 2010 objective is to increase the percentage to 75 percent.

However, the findings, which appear in Friday’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC, also indicate high variability between states in the percentage of persons receiving optimally fluoridated water.

In the District of Columbia, 100 percent of people served by community water systems received optimally fluoridated water, whereas in Hawaii, the percentage was just 8.4 percent.

From 1992 to 2006, Nevada had the most marked increase in the percentage of the population served by public water systems who received optimally fluoridated water — 69.9 percent. At the other extreme, Idaho showed the biggest drop in this percentage –17.0 percent.

“Community water fluoridation is an equitable, cost-effective, and cost-saving method of delivering fluoride to most people,” Dr. William Maas, director of the CDC’s Division of Oral Health, said in a statement. “We’ve seen some marked improvements; however, there are still too many states that have not met the national goal.”

SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, July 11, 2008.

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