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Costs and Savings Associated With Community Water Fluoridation Programs in Colorado

Author(s): Joan M. O’Connell, PhD | Diane Brunson, RDH, MPH | Theresa Anselmo, RDH | Patrick W. Sullivan, PhD

Journal: Preventing Chronic Disease
ISSN 1545-1151

Volume: 2;
Issue: 5;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: public health | chronic disease | prevention | water | flouridation | Colorado

Introduction Local, state, and national health policy makers require information on the economic burden of oral disease and the cost-effectiveness of oral health programs to set policies and allocate resources. In this study, we estimate the cost savings associated with community water fluoridation programs (CWFPs) in Colorado and potential cost savings if Colorado communities without fluoridation programs or naturally high fluoride levels were to implement CWFPs. Methods We developed an economic model to compare the costs associated with CWFPs with treatment savings achieved through averted tooth decay. Treatment savings included those associated with direct medical costs and indirect nonmedical costs (i.e., patient time spent on dental visit). We estimated program costs and treatment savings for each water system in Colorado in 2003 dollars. We obtained parameter estimates from published studies, national surveys, and other sources. We calculated net costs for Colorado water systems with existing CWFPs and potential net costs for systems without CWFPs. The analysis includes data for 172 public water systems in Colorado that serve populations of 1000 individuals or more. We used second-order Monte Carlo simulations to evaluate the inherent uncertainty of the model assumptions on the results and report the 95% credible range from the simulation model. Results We estimated that Colorado CWFPs were associated with annual savings of $148.9 million (credible range, $115.1 million to $187.2 million) in 2003, or an average of $60.78 per person (credible range, $46.97 to $76.41). We estimated that Colorado would save an additional $46.6 million (credible range, $36.0 to $58.6 million) annually if CWFPs were implemented in the 52 water systems without such programs and for which fluoridation is recommended. Conclusion Colorado realizes significant annual savings from CWFPs; additional savings and reductions in morbidity could be achieved if fluoridation programs were implemented in other areas.
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