Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals | Kathy Kliebert, Secretary

Statewide Initiatives

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Community Water Flouridation

Fluoridation Management Program

The fluoridation management program ensures the proper implementation and safety of community water fluoridation.  In Louisiana, community water fluoridation is overseen by two divisions of the Department of Health and Hospitals. 

  • The State Oral Health Program addresses scientific, health-related, safety-related, and technical matters regarding fluoridation.  The Oral Health Program has a fluoridation coordinator and a fluoridation engineer who work exclusively with communities and water systems who fluoridate or who are considering fluoridation.  The Oral Health Program is also responsible for securing funding for water systems that are affected by the fluoridation mandate, Act 761. 
  • The State Engineering Division oversees the technical and engineering aspects of executing water fluoridation.  The Oral Health Program's fluoridation engineer works very closely with the State Engineering Division.  The Engineering Division oversees the training of operators, and the monitoring and status reporting of individual water systems.  The Engineering Division is responsible for reporting water system status to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

Common questions about community water flouridation

Community Water flouridation in Louisiana

In 2008, Governor Jindal signed Act 761 which mandates that water systems with over 5,000 connections initiate water fluoridation. As fluoride is nature's cavity fighter, community water fluoridation is a public health intervention with the purpose of decreasing the rates of dental decay, thereby preventing cavities and improving oral health.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element and is present in all water sources, even the ocean. Water fluoridation is the controlled adjustment of the natural fluoride concentration in a public water supply up to the level recommended for preventing tooth decay. The recommended level of fluoride for Louisiana is 0.8 parts per million based on the ambient air temperature and guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control. Community water fluoridation has been in practice in the US since 1945. Presently, almost 70% of the US receives fluoridated water[i]; the Healthy People 2010 goal is to have 75% of the population receiving fluoridated water by 2010[ii]. In Louisiana, however, less than 40% of the population receives the benefit of fluoridated water. Nearly 220,000 Louisiana residents are served by community water systems that have naturally occurring optimally fluoridated water, while approximately 1,800,000 Louisiana residents are served by community water systems that adjust their fluoride levels to achieve an optimal concentration.

In 1996, a study conducted in Louisiana found that Medicaid-eligible children who live in communities without fluoridation are three times more likely to end up in the hospital to undergo dental treatment than Medicaid-eligible children living in fluoridated communities. Furthermore, the cost of dental treatment per eligible child residing in a non-fluoridated community was approximately twice as high[iii].

[i] Centers for Disease Control (2008). Community Water Fluoridation Status Now Reaches Nearly 70 percent of U.S. Population. Retrieved online on July 17, 2009, from here.

[ii] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (2005). Oral health. In Healthy People 2010 (sect. 21). Retrieved April 23, 2009 from here.

[iii] Centers for Disease Control. (1999, September 3). Water fluoridation and costs of Medicaid treatment for dental decay- Louisiana, 1995-1996. MMWR Weekly; 48(34), 753-757.