Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Authority To End Fluoridation: What Does This Mean For Oral Health?

Attention, residents of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County:  You and your families will soon be at higher risk for tooth decay.   In a surprising move, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority Board in January voted to stop adding fluoride to the public water supply by the end of the year.

Although our water supply contains some naturally occurring fluoride, fluoride levels are too low in most of the county to prevent tooth decay.   The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined the optimum level of fluoride in water to be 0.7 mg/liter.  Yet only 35% of Bernalillo County’s water distribution zones meet this level.   (See this map of ABQ-Bernalillo County’s naturally occurring fluoride levels.)

Fluoridating public water supplies and using fluoride dental products can improve oral health and produce several benefits:

  • Fewer cavities and less severe cavities.
  • Less need for fillings and tooth extractions.
  • Less pain and suffering associated with tooth decay.

Thirty-four percent of New Mexico’s third-graders suffer from untreated tooth decay, compared to the national rate of 23%.  Hispanic and Black children and those living in families with lower incomes have more decay. Reducing water fluoride levels could make that worse.

The water utility board’s action recently was brought to the attention of the New Mexico Oral Health Advisory Council (NMOHAC), of which I am a member.  The NMOHAC includes dental health care providers, state officials and others committed to improving oral health and access to dental services. The NMOHAC is considering how to address this issue.

Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, public water supplies must contain no more than 2.0 mg/liter of fluoride.  There is no federal minimum for water fluoride levels.

For more information on fluoridation and the nationally recommended standard:


One response to “Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Authority To End Fluoridation: What Does This Mean For Oral Health?

  1. You’re correct. Flouride in water at 1-2ppm can be healthy, however there has been no (unbiased) correlation between Flouride and healthy teeth and this has been opposed (with less propoganda) and re-tested since the 1930’s. In other words, there is as much correlation between Flouride and healthy teeth as there is with Flouride and non-healthy teeth. Wouldn’t a better approach for the (NMOOOIDFHCDAAC) be to study the nutrition of these ‘children in low-income neighborhoods’, as its well known that nutrition, and not non-flouridation is a systemic cause of root decay? You may want to later explain to parents of these young football players who begin reading the more appealing correlation of osteosarcoma in adolescent boys. Most of the world has rejected fluoridation. Only America where it originated, and countries under strong American influence persist in the practice. Good Luck.

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