Updated on May 23, 2024
2 min read

Pennsylvania Water Fluoride: Updated Statistics

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Water fluoridation is a crucial public health measure that helps prevent tooth decay and improve oral health. However, the implementation of fluoridation policies varies widely across the United States. In Pennsylvania, the decision to fluoridate water is made at the local level, resulting in a significant portion of the population lacking access to this important public health intervention.

Despite the well-established benefits of water fluoridation, Pennsylvania ranks 42nd in the nation for the percentage of its population with access to fluoridated water. This article will explore the current state of water fluoridation in Pennsylvania, comparing it to national averages and discussing the factors that contribute to the state’s lower-than-average fluoridation coverage.

  • In 2018, only 55.7% of Pennsylvania’s population served by community water systems had access to fluoridated water, well below the national average of 72.7% in 2020.
  • Pennsylvania ranks 42nd in the nation for water fluoridation, indicating that a large portion of the population does not receive the oral health benefits of fluoridated water.
  • The percentage of Pennsylvania’s population with access to fluoridated water has remained relatively stagnant or slightly declined over the years, with 54.6% in 2016, 54.7% in 2014, and 54.6% in 2012.
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Local Decision-Making and Fluoridation Coverage

One of the main reasons for Pennsylvania’s lower-than-average fluoridation coverage is the state’s approach to fluoridation policy.

  • Pennsylvania does not mandate statewide fluoridation, leaving the decision to fluoridate water supplies to local municipalities or water authorities.
  • This decentralized approach has led to a patchwork of fluoridation policies across the state, with some communities choosing to fluoridate their water while others do not.

Attempts to Expand Fluoridation in Pennsylvania

In recent years, there have been several attempts to fluoridate specific communities in Pennsylvania, but these efforts have often faced significant local opposition.

  • Local government or community choice plays a significant role in the implementation of water fluoridation policies within the state.
  • Despite the efforts to expand fluoridation, the percentage of Pennsylvania’s population with access to fluoridated water has remained relatively unchanged over the past decade.

National Fluoridation Statistics

To put Pennsylvania’s fluoridation coverage into perspective, it is important to consider national fluoridation statistics.

  • In 2020, 72.7% of the U.S. population on community water systems, or 209,145,650 people, had access to fluoridated water.
  • The Healthy People 2030 objective aims for 77.1% of people served by community water systems to receive water with the optimum level of fluoride.

Pennsylvania’s fluoridation coverage of 55.7% in 2018 falls well below both the current national average and the Healthy People 2030 target. This disparity highlights the need for increased efforts to promote and implement water fluoridation in the state.

Water fluoridation remains a safe, effective, and cost-efficient way to improve oral health and prevent tooth decay. By addressing the barriers to fluoridation implementation and promoting the benefits of this public health measure, Pennsylvania can work towards increasing access to fluoridated water for its residents. Improving fluoridation coverage will not only enhance oral health outcomes but also contribute to reducing health disparities and promoting overall well-being in the state.

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Last updated on May 23, 2024
4 Sources Cited
Last updated on May 23, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Water Fluoridation Data & Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020.
  2. Pennsylvania Fluoridation Statistics. Fluoride Action Network, Retrieved 2023.
  3. Community Water Fluoridation in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health, Retrieved 2023.
  4. What’s in the water for many in Philadelphia’s suburbs? Not fluoride. Why? WHYY, 2019.
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