Research shows that there is a net cost benefit to a community with water fluoridation. Water Fluoridation prevents cavities and saves money, both for families and the health care system.
A 2010 study in New York State found that Medicaid enrollees in less fluoridated counties needed 33 percent more fillings, root canals, and extractions than those in counties where fluoridated water was much more prevalent. As a result, the treatment costs per Medicaid recipient were $23.65 higher for those living in less fluoridated counties.
Source: Kumar J.V., Adekugbe O., Melnik T.A., “Geographic Variation in Medicaid Claims for Dental Procedures in New York State: Role of Fluoridation Under Contemporary Conditions,” Public Health Reports, (September-October 2010) Vol. 125, No. 5, 647-54.
A 1999 study compared Louisiana parishes (counties) that were fluoridated with those that were not. The study found that low-income children in communities without fluoridated water were three times more likely than those in communities with fluoridated water to need dental treatment in a hospital operating room.
A Texas study confirmed that the state saved $24 per child, per year in Medicaid expenditures for children because of the cavities that were prevented by drinking fluoridated water.
Researchers estimated that in 2003 Colorado saved nearly $149 million in unnecessary treatment costs by fluoridating public water supplies—average savings of roughly $61 per person.
By reducing the incidence of decay, fluoridation makes it less likely that toothaches or other serious dental problems will drive people to hospital emergency rooms (ERs)—where treatment costs are high. A 2010 survey of hospitals in Washington State found that dental disorders were the leading reason why uninsured patients visited ERs.
Conclusion from “Economic Evaluation of Community Water Fluoridation. A Community Guide Systematic Review”
Recent evidence continues to indicate that the economic benefit of community water fluoridation exceeds the intervention cost. Further, the benefit–cost ratio increases with the community population size.
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