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.
To examine the reported cost-effectiveness of CWF.
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.
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.
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.
Published online: 3 Dec 2014