In several Oklahoma community water systems, fluoride is added to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. Some cities, like Norman and Ada, have been doing this for more than 50 years.

But the cost of maintaining or repairing fluoridation systems has forced some communities to stop the process, and other community water systems have never done so. About 30 percent of Oklahomans don’t receive fluoridated water from public water systems, Dr. Jana Winfree, the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s dental director, said.

“For over 70 years, people in the U.S. have benefited from drinking water with fluoride,” she said. “Fluoridation prevents disease by continuously bathing the teeth with fluoride, thus making teeth stronger and more resistant to acid attacks which cause decay. Bottled water usually does not contain fluoride. The health department has dedicated fluoridation staff who monitor and promote water fluoridation for the state.”

Access, money, education stand between Oklahomans, oral health

Several communities recently stopped doing so, including Elk City, Wewoka and Stigler. Lawton stopped, but started adding fluoride again when community leaders got involved and pushed city leadership to begin the process again.

“We really need people in the cities that have stopped, local champions to get people together and talk with city officials,” Winfree said. “I wish we could have fluoridated water accessible to everyone on hot days and public events, rather than people buying bottled water, so they could benefit [from the fluoride].”

Fluoridation in Oklahoma

Oklahoma State Department of Health

*Original article online at