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“Does Education on Community Water Fluoridation Impact Consumption of Bottled Water?”

Author: Renee King

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Scott Tomar, College of Dentistry, UIC
Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE, UIC

Abstract: Since fluoridation of drinking water prevents Dental Caries, a disease where bacteria dissolve the enamel surface of the tooth, it is imperative communities benefitting from its supply be informed of its existence and take advantage. Community Water Fluoridation (CWF) is the process by which the amount of fluoride is regulated in drinking water to a level recommended for preventing tooth decay. It is cost effective both for families and the US health care system, which over the last decade has seen an almost 40% increase in yearly bottled water consumption. Therefore, it is imperative that community members become more informed of this invaluable system and maximize its benefits. This research aims to explore how perception of water safety and education on CWF could decrease bottled water consumption. It will also analyze existing disparities and the possibility of policy implementation for increased usage. The methodology used for this research was a literature review. Findings indicate that as of 2018, over 13% of Americans do not receive fluoridated water. Additionally, 13% regularly consume bottled water and perception of water safety is the strongest predictor of bottled water consumption. Based on these findings, it is recommended new policies be implemented to increase knowledge on Community Water Fluoridation. Fines and fees can also be applied to bottled water companies whose operations are negatively impacting the environment.

Keywords: Community Water Fluoridation, Fluoride, Dental Caries prevention, Community Health