Maine Oral Health Program

Water Fluoridation

Fluoride added to community drinking water at a concentration of 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million has repeatedly been shown to be a safe, inexpensive and extremely effective method of preventing tooth decay. Because community water fluoridation benefits everyone in the community, regardless of age and socioeconomic status, fluoridation provides protection against tooth decay in populations with limited access to prevention services. In fact, for every dollar spent on community water fluoridation up to $42 is saved in treatment costs for tooth decay.  In 2001, The National Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent, non-federal, multi-disciplinary Task Force appointed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), conducted a systematic review of studies of community water fluoridation. They found in communities that initiated fluoridation the decrease in childhood decay was almost 30% over 3-12 years of follow-up.

In 2009 the percentage of Maine people on public water supplies who have fluoridated water is about 84%. About 49% of Maine people use public water supplies. This means that overall about 37% of Maine’s total population has fluoridated drinking water in their homes.

In a number of communities without optimally fluoridated water systems, fluoride is provided to Maine children via the School Oral Health Program (SOHP). This program provides a weekly fluoride mouthrinse for students in schools that meet eligibility criteria indicating that students are at increased risk of tooth decay.  The sealant component of the SOHP also provides protection against tooth decay by sealing the pits and grooves on the chewing surfaces of molar teeth – tooth surfaces especially vulnerable to decay. The combination of sealants and fluoride has the potential to virtually eliminate tooth decay.

More information on fluoride and community water fluoridation: