Water fluoridation

Adjusting the natural level of fluoride in our water supplies makes a significant difference in helping to prevent tooth decay for all New Zealanders

The most recent New Zealand oral health survey (2009) showed that children and adolescents living in areas with fluoridated water have 40 percent less tooth decay than those living in areas without. The significant benefits of water fluoridation for oral health are also supported by over 60 years of studies around the world.

What is water fluoridation?

Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the natural level of fluoride in the water supply to between 0.7 ppm and 1.0 ppm. This is the optimal amount that provides protection against tooth decay. The amount added is monitored to make sure that the levels stay within that range.

Water fluoridation has been used in many regions in New Zealand for over 60 years. New Zealand and international studies show that water fluoridation provides benefits over and above brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and eating a healthy diet. Countries similar to New Zealand also support water fluoridation, including Australia, the United Kingdom, the USA and Canada.

Why is water fluoridated?

The current level of fluoride found in untreated water supplies in New Zealand is not effective enough to be of benefit in helping to prevent tooth decay. Increasing the fluoride found in the water supply to a safe level brings oral health benefits.

Despite widespread use of fluoride toothpaste and public provision of dental services for children, tooth decay is still the single most common chronic disease for New Zealanders. Water fluoridation is recommended by key public health agencies around the world as an important contribution to health equity as the benefit of dental decay prevention is greater for Māori, children, and those in low socioeconomic groups.

Visit the Fluoride Facts section for more information about water fluoridation.

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