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Ottawa’s Community Water Fluoridation – Key Points 2017

Each year we calculate the cost per resident of providing community water fluoridation and review the key messages related to the topic. This year the cost has been reduced significantly from .42 to .34 cents per resident. These days, what can you buy for .34 cents that makes a difference to your health? Community water fluoridation is a good deal for Ottawa. I am pleased to share the key points.

  • Consistent with the recommendations of many Canadian and international health and dental organizations, Dr. Isra Levy, the City of Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, local physicians and dentists support the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s position that fluoridation of drinking water continues to prevent dental cavities and improve the oral health for people of all ages.
  • If discontinued, it would be costly for the City of Ottawa to substitute for water fluoridation.  The current protection of oral health costs only $0.34 per person per year1.  The cost for alternative delivery of fluoride is estimated to be $68.42 to $122.00 per person each year. 2
  • While some people benefit from private insurance and could access fluoride treatments at reduced cost, approximately 211,200 Ottawa residents aged 12 and up do not have dental insurance3. The City of Ottawa’s clients on Ontario Works alone would create a bill of $2.4M and for those without private, employer or government sponsored dental insurance, it would cost $26M4 annually to maintain current levels of dental health through fluoride applications.
  • Water fluoridation costs 34 cents/resident annually ($300,000/874,273 total population on Ottawa drinking water supply for 2016). Community water fluoridation is a safe, effective and economical way to support the oral health of residents of the City of Ottawa.
  • The cost of adding fluoride to our drinking water is approximately $300,000 per year.  Most of the cost is for the fluoride chemical (HFS=hydrofluorosilicic acid), which is typically $250,000 per year plus an additional 20% to account for other operating expenses such as energy, pump maintenance, controls, tank inspections, etc. The total annual cost of $300,000 works out to approximately $0.003 per m3 to add fluoride, in relation to the overall water rate of approximately $1.80 per m3.
  • The Urban area represents the population serviced by the central water supply. The communal well systems (Carp, Munster, KingsPark, Shadow Ridge, & Vars) are unique groundwater systems operated by the City – these are not fluoridated, although some have natural levels of fluoride in the groundwater – see table. Most other rural residents would be using private wells.
Municipal Well System Typical Fluoride Concentration
Carp 0.54 mg/L
Kings Park (Richmond) 0.35 mg/L
Munster 0.68 mg/L
Vars 0.20 mg/L
Shadow Ridge (Greely) 0.08 mg/L

Please continue to speak to your patients about the importance of drinking Ottawa’s tap water. Our dental resource catalogue lists all of our oral health fact sheets, posters etc. that are available and we hope are useful to you to give to your patients as needed. If you have any questions, please call the Dental Information Line at 613-580-6744 ex 23510.

Yours truly,


Nancy Kennedy,

BComm, M.H.A. Program Manager, Dental Health

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