Fluoridationists say fluoridation saves $38 for each dollar spent. This is not true.
A critique of recent economic evaluations of
community water fluoridation
by Lee Ko and Kathleen M. Thiessen
Oakland, CA, USA,
Oak Ridge Center for Risk Analysis, Oak Ridge, TN, USA
Background: Although community water fluoridation (CWF) results in a range of potential contaminant
exposures, little attention has been given to many of the possible impacts. A central argument for CWF is its
cost-effectiveness. The U.S. Government states that $1 spent on CWF saves $38 in dental treatment costs.
Objective: To examine the reported cost-effectiveness of CWF.
Methods: Methods and underlying data from the primary U.S. economic evaluation of CWF are analyzed
and corrected calculations are described. Other recent economic evaluations are also examined.
Results: Recent economic evaluations of CWF contain defective estimations of both costs and benefits.
Incorrect handling of dental treatment costs and flawed estimates of effectiveness lead to overestimated
benefits. The real-world costs to water treatment plants and communities are not reflected.
Conclusions: Minimal correction reduced the savings to $3 per person per year (PPPY) for a best-case
scenario, but this savings is eliminated by the estimated cost of treating dental fluorosis.
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