Adding fluoride to the water is the best way to prevent tooth decay in a large number of people at a low cost. Water naturally contains some fluoride, but there is not always enough to prevent tooth decay. Community water fluoridation adjusts the natural fluoride concentration of a community’s water supply. Hamilton’s drinking water has been fluoridated since 1966.
Even if you get fluoride from other sources, such as a fluoride treatment at the dentist, water fluoridation is still the best method to use.
In Ontario, 70% of the population have access to fluoridated drinking water.
More than 90 provincial, national and international dental and health organizations support public water fluoridation to prevent cavities and tooth loss, including:
Benefits of water fluoridation
Scientific evidence worldwide shows that fluoridation of community water supplies is safe. Benefits of water fluoridation include:
Less dental decay and cavities. Communities without fluoride in the water have higher rates of cavities than those that do fluoridate their water.
Prevention of pain, infection and tooth loss.
Lower dental costs for repairing decayed teeth.
Better oral health.
Amount of fluoride in Hamilton’s drinking water
The naturally occurring level of fluoride in Lake Ontario, the major source of Hamilton’s drinking water, is 0.15 parts per million.
In keeping with Canadian water standards, the level of fluoride in Hamilton’s water is 0.6 parts per million.
Neighbouring communities, such as Halton, Toronto and Waterloo have a level of fluoride in their water ranging from 0.5 parts per million to 0.8 parts per million.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s maximum allowable concentration for fluoride in drinking water is 1.5 parts per million.
Fluoride is already a naturally occurring material found in our environment such as:
- Most foods
The City of Hamilton monitors fluoride levels in drinking water regularly to ensure recommended levels are not more than we need. Independent lab testing confirms that the fluoride levels used in Hamilton meet all safety standards.
With over 60 years of experience using fluoride in water, there is now a lot of information about safety.
The small amounts of fluoride used in City of Hamilton water are known to provide benefits for dental health.
There is some evidence that health problems may occur at doses that are many times higher than in Hamilton water. There are several checks and balances in place to ensure that levels in Hamilton water will always stay well below these levels.
When looking for information on fluoride and safety, it is important to look at all of the scientific evidence and at the quality of studies. Balanced reviews considering all of the relevant studies have found that water fluoridation is effective and that it is safe at the levels delivered in Hamilton. This includes Canadian studies using the same fluoridation process as the City of Hamilton. At the low levels used in Hamilton drinking water, there has never been a credible review that has linked water fluoridation with anything other than dental fluorosis.
Cost of fluoridation for the City of Hamilton's water
The average household in Hamilton spends $522 per year on water, with about $2.50 of that for fluoride. Only residents who use City of Hamilton water pay for fluoride, not all Hamilton residents.