Community Water Fluoridation

Community water fluoridation fact sheet

Community water fluoridation helps protect teeth against decay. More than 97 per cent of Victorians have access to fluoridated water but access is not equitable across the state. While 99 per cent of people in metropolitan Melbourne have access to fluoridated water, only 88 per cent of people in rural and regional areas have access.1 The Victorian action plan to prevent oral disease 2020–30 sets out a vision to achieve good oral health for all Victorians and includes a goal to increase access to fluoridated water to 95% of rural and regional Victorians.

What is water fluoridation?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in rock, air, soil, plants and water. Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the amount of fluoride in drinking water to an optimal level to reduce tooth decay.

Community water fluoridation is a safe, equitable and cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay while reaching everyone in the community. Access to fluoridated water can reduce tooth decay by 26% to 44% in children and adolescents, and 27% in adults.2

Why is tooth decay a serious problem?

  • Tooth decay is a common, preventable oral disease that can cause pain and infection and can have impacts on general health, self-esteem and participation in school and work.
  • Around 2 in 5 children have experienced tooth decay in their primary (baby) teeth.
  • In Victoria, dental conditions are the leading cause of preventable hospitalisations in children under 10 years old.4
  • Experience of tooth decay increases over the lifetime and around 90 per cent of adults have experienced tooth decay at some stage in their life.5

How does fluoride work?

Fluoride can help to both prevent tooth decay and to reverse early stage tooth decay. Fluoride helps to strengthen the mineral structure of teeth and act as a repair kit at the early stages of tooth decay.

How can I support water fluoridation in my local community?

If you live or work in a community without water fluoridation, check out the Cohuna case study to learn how Gannawarra Shire successfully advocated for water fluoridation for their community.

To find out if your drinking water is fluoridated, use the Department of Health’s search tool.

Where can I find out more?

You can get more information about water fluoridation by visiting the following websites:


1Department of Health. Water fluoridation in Victoria. Water fluoridation for healthy teeth. [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Sep. 14]. Available from Water fluoridation in Victoria (
2Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Oral health and dental care in Australia [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2023 [cited 2023 Aug. 11]. Available from:
3ARCPOH. Oral health of Australia children: National Child Oral Health Study 2012-14. Adelaide: The University of Adelaide, South Australia.
4Department of Health. Child oral health [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Jun. 14]. Available from: Child oral health |
5ARCPOH. Australia’s Oral Health: National Study of Adult Oral Health 2017-18. Adelaide: The University of Adelaide, South Australia.