As the Missouri House and Senate consider the fiscal year 2023 budget for the state, Delta Dental of Missouri, a nonprofit and the state’s dental benefits leader, strongly encourages the support of $825,000 in Section 10.740 of House Bill 3010 for the Office of Dental Health Fluoridation Pilot Program.

This funding will initiate the Innovative Technology Pilot Project with a new fluoridation technology making community water fluoridation simpler, accessible and attainable for distressed areas, while repairing and replacing aging fluoridation equipment in communities currently providing fluoridated water.

Currently, 36 Missouri counties are without fluoridated water systems. All are rural, and 16 are in high-need areas experiencing a dentist shortage. Statewide, more than 1,100 water utilities, serving nearly 1.5 million people, don’t put fluoride in the water. Yet, research shows fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and one of the most equitable means for delivering fluoride to all community members.

In 2021, Delta Dental of Missouri contributed nearly $150,000 to support water fluoridation, awarding grants to 15 public water systems to help protect the oral health of more than 120,000 Missourians. We committed $225,000 for grants for community water fluoridation in 2022, which will match federal funding. This combined funding makes a difference, but more is needed.

The state’s funding for community water fluoridation is imperative for the dental health of Missourians.

Rob Goren is president and CEO of Delta Dental of Missouri.